Munsusa Temple – 문수사 (Gurye, Jeollanam-do)

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 The stunning three story pagoda that stands at Munsusa Temple in Jirisan National Park.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Munsusa Temple, which is named after the Bodhisattva of Wisdom – Munsu-bosal, is situated up the long Munsu Valley. It was first constructed on Mt. Jirisan in 547 A.D. by a Buddhist monk named Yeongi. Such famous monks as Wonhyo, Uisang, Seosan, and Samyeong have practiced at this temple. Part of the temple was destroyed during the Imjin War (1592 to 1598), and the rest of the temple was burnt down during the Korean War (1950-1953). It wasn’t until 1984, when the monks’ quarters were built, that the temple started to be re-constructed.

Like any temple’s creation myth, Munsusa Temple has a rather fantasical one of their own. A young monk named Cheongheodang was meditating when an old monk approached Cheongheodang and asked if he could meditate with him. At first, Cheongheodang said no because there wasn’t enough food for two people, but eventually he came around after the old monk earnestly asked him to stay. The two meditated day and night, until one day the old monk threw his staff against the face of the mountain. The staff turned into a yellow dragon, and the old monk rode the dragon into the fog. With this story in mind, Munsusa Temple became known as a place where an individual can attain enlightenment through meditation.

You first arrive at the temple up the long and twisting road that runs its way through Munsu Valley. Finally arriving at the temple parking lot, you’ll gain an amazing view of the rolling peaks of Jirisan National Park. You’ll also pass by probably the most unique temple bathroom in all of Korea. You nearly have to crawl to go to the bathroom because the height of the bathroom’s ceiling is so low. Passing under the arched entrance and by the monks’ living quarters both to your right and left, you’ll finally enter into the temple courtyard.

Right away, you’ll notice the amazingly beautiful three story wooden pagoda straight ahead of you. Inside this beautiful structure sits Seokgamoni-bul on the main altar. To the right of the main altar is a painting of Chilseong (The Seven Stars), and to the left hangs a guardian painting. Out in front of this ornately painted wooden pagoda is a solemn looking stone statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).

Before seeing the three story wooden pagoda, you’ll first have to pass by a shrine hall that is divided into three sections. Of these three sections, only the middle section is open to the public. This plain wooden building has a handful of statues resting on the main altar including a statue of Seokgamoni-bul.

To the left of the pagoda, and the real highlight to this temple, are the four Asiatic black bears. Inside a red cage, all four black bears are housed. Initially, they had been kept in a cage, then, in 2001, they were given to the temple to be released. It’s unclear as to why they haven’t been released after 12 years, whether it be because they are too used to being fed by humans, or whatever else it might be. But whatever the reason, the bears are still housed at the temple, and they allow for one of the most unique trips you’ll ever take to a Korean temple.

Just up the hill, on an uneven set of stairs, lie three more temple structures. The first, and to the far right, is a meditative hall for monks to look out onto the Jirisan horizon. Straight ahead is the wooden Munsu-jeon hall, which is solely dedicated to Munsu-bosal. Inside sits a beautiful golden statue of the Bodhisattva, as well as a red painting.

Finally, and up the mountain to the left, is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Inside this hall, rather uniquely, hang only two shaman paintings. Straight ahead is the rather plain looking Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) mural, while to the right is an equally plain Dokseong (The Recluse) painting. However, the view of the Munsu Valley from this height is unsurpassed at the temple.

HOW TO GET THERE: More likely than not, you’ll first arrive at the Gurye Bus Terminal. From here, you’ll need to take a taxi to get to Munsusa Temple, because there’s no direct bus that goes to the temple. From the bus terminal, and to get to Munsusa Temple, it’ll cost about 14,000 won, and the ride will last about 40 minutes. There’s also a trail that leads from Munsusa Temple to Hwaeomsa Temple, so you can pack both into a nice day trip around Jirisan National Park.


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OVERALL RATING: 7/10. This is a tough one to rate. If you love bears, perhaps this temple easily becomes a ten out of ten; however, if your thing is temple buildings, then perhaps your rating is a little lower because outside of the wooden pagoda, there really isn’t all that much to enjoy. So splitting it up the relative middle, I thought I would give the temple a seven out of ten. But the things, by far, to be enjoyed at this temple are the four Asiatic black bears and the three story wooden pagoda.

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 The entrance to Munsusa Temple.

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 The rather quaint bathroom near the entrance of the temple.

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 Part of the monk dorms at Munsusa Temple.

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 The temple courtyard with the three story pagoda to the left and the main hall to the right.

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 Inside the three sectioned main hall, and in the centre, is this bronze statue of Seokgamoni-bul.

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 This statue of Seokgamoni-bul sits on the main altar, on the first floor, of the three story pagoda.

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 A better look at the amazing pagoda.

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 Out in front of the pagoda is this solemn looking statue of Jijang-bosal.

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 To the left of the pagoda stands the rather plain looking bell pavilion. Annoyingly, a mother was wrongly telling her son to strike it, while she took pictures of him.

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 The cage that houses the four bears.

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 A better look at the largest one.

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 And another picture of another adult Asiatic black bear.

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 Up a set of stairs stands the Munsu-jeon hall.

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 Inside sits this very ornate statue of Munsu-bosal.

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 A look as you ascend the stairs to get to the Munsu-jeon. A pretty amazing view!

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 And the view from the Munsu-jeon hall.

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A little further up the hill, and to the left, is the plain looking Samseong-gak.

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 In the centre is a painting of Sanshin.

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 And to the right is a painting of Dokseong.

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 One more amazing view of Jirisan. This time, it’s taken from the Samseong-gak.

Temple Stay: Guinsa Temple (Chungcheongbuk-do)

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(Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Hello Again Everyone!!

Introduction to the Temple:

Guinsa Temple (“Salvation and Kindness Temple”) is beautifully located on Mt. Sobaeksan. Unlike most other temples in Korea, Guinsa Temple only dates back to 1945, when the Cheontae Order was re-established by the Grand Patriarch Sangwol-wongak. Originally, Guinsa Temple was nothing more than a thatched hut. After a time, Sangwol-wongak achieved enlightenment, and his followers have continued to grow to this day. Guinsa Temple is the headquarters to the Cheontae Order, which administers over 140 temples and 2 million practitioners. As for the temple itself, it’s on the rather large and ornate side of things. From the smallest of buildings, to the largest, this temple is pretty awe-inspiring.

The Temple Stay Program at Guinsa Temple runs regularly throughout the year. At Guinsa Temple, you can enjoy a lot of interaction with the monks, as well as time to yourself. Additionally, you can enjoy making lotus lanterns or a Nirvana walk. This program has a fair bit to offer a visitor to the temple.

For more information on Guinsa Temple.

(Courtesy of the Korean Temple Stay website)

Directions:

A: Seoul 
1. Yeongdong Highway (South Wonju) -> Manjong Fork Point -> Central Highway (Daegu Direction)
① -> West Jecheon IC -> Yeongwol (No.38 Road) Direction -> Changwon-ri -> Guinsa Temple
② -> North Danyang IC -> Maepo, Danyang -> Guinsa Temple

2. Bus departs from Dong (East) Seoul Bus Terminal 12 times a day every hour.

B: Busan
Central Highway -> Danyang IC -> Through Danyang City -> Guinsa Temple



General Schedule:

Day 1:
~13:00 Arrival
13:00~13:30: Check-In
13:30~14:00: Orientation
14:00~15:30: Temple Tour
15:30~17:30: Making a Lotus Lantern and Experience Training
18:00~18:30: Evening Ceremony
18:30~19:20: Dinner
19:30~20:30: Free Time
20:30~03:00: Bedtime

Day 2:
03:00~03:15: Wake Up
03:30~04:30: Early Morning Ceremony
04:30~06:30: Free Time
06:50~07:20: Breakfast
07:30~09:00: Walking Meditation (Nirvana Tomb)
09:00~10:30: Conversation over Tea with Monks
10:30~11:00: Survey
11:00~11:30 Room cleaning
12:00~ Ending
*Schedule is subject to change.

(Courtesy of the Korean Temple Stay website)

Guinsa Temple Information:

Address : 73 Guinsagil Yeongchun-myeon Danyang-gun Chungcheongbuk-do

Tel : +82-43-420-7493 / Fax : +82-43-420-7399

homepage : http://temple.cheontae.org/
E-mail : guinsa@templestay.com

Fees:

Adults: 40,000 won; Teens: 20,000 won; Under 13: 20,000 won

Link:

Reservations for the Guinsa Temple Stay program.

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(Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Temple Stay: International Seon Center (Seoul)

(Courtesy of the Korean Temple Stay website)

Hello Again Everyone!!

Introduction to the Temple:

The International Seon Center first opened its doors on November 15th, 2010. The center was opened so that both Koreans and ex-pats could enjoy and experience Korean Buddhism. In total, the center consists of nine floors. The first two underground floors are reserved for parking, while the final underground floor is reserved for the Education and Culture Hall. The first floor of the building houses the center’s office and restaurant. The third and fourth floor, respectively, house the Event Hall and the Dining Room. The fifth floor, and the floor you’re probably most interested in, is reserved for the Temple Stay Program; while the sixth and seventh floor consist of the monks’ living quarters and the Geumcha Seon Hall (or the Practice Hall). As you can see, this center truly has it all.

The Temple Stay program at the International Seon Center focuses primarily on meditation. In addition, you can also enjoy making prayer beads, learn about a traditional Buddhist meal, or have a dharma talk. You can also enjoy the Dharma Talk program, which takes place every Saturday night for both beginners and advanced practitioners of Buddhism.

(Courtesy of the International Seon Center website).

Directions:

To get to the International Seon Center from Seoul, you’ll need to take subway line #5 to Omokgyo Subway Station. Exit out exit #8 and walk straight until you get to the first intersection (there will be a bank on the corner). Turn left at this intersection and walk straight until you get to the Mokdong Middle School, which will be on your left. Across the street from this middle school is the nine-story International Seon Center.


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General Schedule:

The International Seon Center runs two different types of programs. The first is the typical, one night, two days program, where participants get to live like a Buddhist monk. The other program is on Saturday night, and it’s a Dharma Talk where both beginners and advance practitioners are actively encouraged to participate. Here are the two schedules for both programs.

A: Regular Schedule:

Day One:
13:00~13:30 : Registration & Orientation
13:30~15:00 : Temple Manners & Opening Ceremony
15:00~16:20 : Self- Introduction
16:30~17:30 : Learn Traditional Buddhist Meal
17:30~18:20 : Dinner
18:30~19:00 : Evening Service
19:00~20:30 : Make 108 Prayer’s Beads
20:30~21:00 : Ready for Sleep
21:00~ : Sleep

Day Two:
03:00~03:30 : Wake Up & Wash
03:30~04:00 : Dawn Service
04:00~04:30 : 108 Bows
04:30~06:00 : Seon Mediation (in silence)
06:00~07:30 : Breakfast
07:30~09:00 : Tour to a Hermitage
09:00~10:00 : Dharma Talk
10:00~10:40 : Community Work & Survey
10:40~ : Closing Ceremony

(Courtesy of the International Seon Center website).

B: Dharma Talk Schedule:

7:00~7:30 pm  Free sitting / Personal Interview
7:30~7:40 pm  Group walking / Noble silence
7:40~8:00 pm  Group sitting / Noble silence
8:00~8:10 pm  Group walking / Noble silence
8:20~8:30 pm  Group sitting / Noble silence
8:30~9:00 pm  Dharma talk / Q&A
9:00~9:30 pm  Free talking / Personal Interview

International Seon Center Information:

Address : 319-11 Sinjeong 6-dong, Yangcheon-gu, Seoul, Korea
Tel : 02)2650-2242 / Fax : 02)2650-2201
homepage : http://www.seoncenter.or.kr/
E-mail : seoncenter@templestay.com

Fees:

Adults: 50,000 won; Teens: 50,000 won; Under 13: 30,000 won (One Night, Two Days Program)

Adults: Free – Donations Welcomed (Saturday Dharma Talk).

Links:

Reservations for the Temple Stay Program at the International Seon Center.

For more information on the Saturday evening Dharma talks.

(Courtesy of the International Seon Center website)

Naewonjeongsa Temple – 내원정사 (Seodaeshin-dong, Busan)

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 The stunning golden pagoda that sits front and centre on the main altar inside the Daeung-jeon at Naewonjeongsa Temple in Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Lately, I’ve been exploring Busan more and more. With it being so close to where I live, and with literally thousands of temples to explore, it was a no-brainer. This past weekend, my exploration of Busan brought me to Naewonjeongsa Temple in Seodaeshin-dong, which is in close proximity to Busan Station.

Situated on Mt. Eomgwangsan, you’ll first approach Naewonjeongsa Temple up a mountain road. This is a bit strange, since the temple lies just above the busy Busan Station area. Finally arriving in the mid-sized parking lot, and having passed by the numerous mountain hikers along the way, you’ll first see the front façade to Naewonjeongsa Temple.

In the centre of the front façade are the Cheonwangmun Gate and the bell pavilion above it. Passing under the bell pavilion and through the Cheonwangmun Gate, you’ll finally enter the temple courtyard; however, before doing that, take the time to enjoy the paintings in and around the Cheonwangmun Gate. There are unique guardian paintings on the front doors, intricately painted Heavenly Kings, and the ceiling to the gate is beautifully adorned with both yellow and blue dragons and phoenixes.

Standing in the temple courtyard, and if you look back from where you first came, you’ll notice a bell pavilion that you can actually have a seat and take a rest in (or at least that’s what I saw a couple Koreans doing). While the bell is rather plain, the base to the large drum is demonic, while the cloud gong has a pair of Biseon dancing around it. But the real highlight is the large sized fish gong with an equally large sized red pearl in its mouth. To the right and left of the bell pavilion, and outlining the temple courtyard, are two rows of temple buildings. These buildings act as the monks’ quarters, visitors centre, and administrative office. There is even a nice row of Chinese plum trees to accompanying the building to the right.

Straight ahead is the true highlight to Naewonjeongsa Temple, which just so happens to be the main hall at the temple. Surrounding the exterior walls to the main hall are an assortment of paintings. To the rear are a colourful set of Shimu-do murals that are joined by beautiful Buddha and Bodhisattva paintings. But the real rare thing about these paintings are the Dokseong (The Recluse) and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) murals that are painted on either side of the main hall. I’ve never seen this before. Also, the main hall is surrounded by a mature bamboo forest.

The interior to the main hall is absolutely golden. This is emphasized by the large golden pagoda that sits on the main altar. This five tier pagoda is joined by two large sized statues of Moonsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the right are three golden reliefs. The closest one to the pagoda is Moonsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom). Next to this it is a relief of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom). And on the far right wall is a golden relief of the Yeongsan Assembly. To the left of the main altar are another three golden reliefs. The first to the left of the main altar is Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). Next to it is the guardian relief. And finally, there is another golden relief hanging on the far left wall of Yaksayore-bul (The Buddha of Medicine). In addition to all these reliefs, there are also two towers filled with miniature statues of Buddhas beside the main altar. As you can tell, this main hall is filled with amazing artistry.

To the right of the main hall is the Samseong-gak. All the artwork to this hall is housed inside it. The three most popular shaman deities, Chilseong (The Seven Stars), Dokseong, and Sanshin are housed inside this hall. They are all black in hue and well executed in design.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Naewonjeongsa Temple, you’ll first have to take the subway, line one, to the Seodaesin Subway Station, stop #107. From there, you can take a taxi up to Naewonjeongsa Temple. It’ll cost you 3,600 won, and the ride will take about 10 minutes (2.6 kilometres).


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OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. Just for the main hall alone, this temple deserves this rating with the large sized golden pagoda, six golden reliefs, and the very rare paintings of both Sanshin and Dokseong painted on the exterior walls. Additionally, all of the instruments inside the bell pavilion are unique in their own right. And top that off with the masterfully painted shaman murals, and you have more than enough reason to explore the little traveled Naewonjeongsa Temple near Busan Station.

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The front facade at the temple with the sun peaking through the trees in the early morning hours.

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 The Cheonwangmun Gate and bell pavilion at Naewonjeongsa Temple.

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One of the main entrance doors at the temple with a unique guardian painting on it.

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Just one of the elaborately painted Heavenly Kings inside the Cheonwangmun Gate.

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The intricate ceiling of the Cheonwangmun Gate.

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The first site that greets you to the temple courtyard.

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The main hall, or the Daeung-jeon, at Naewonjeongsa Temple.

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The beautiful and intricate main hall.

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It’s pretty easy to spot the large golden pagoda that’s front and centre inside the main hall.

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A better look at the golden interior.

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Just one of the golden reliefs inside the main hall. Literally, the interior walls are lined with gold.

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A contemplative visitor to the temple enjoys the scenic beauty of Naewonjeongsa Temple.

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The very rare exterior walled painting of Dokseong (The Recluse) that adorns the main hall at the temple.

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The main hall is also surrounded by mountains and this bamboo forest.

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The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall at Naewonjeongsa Temple.

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A unique view between the main hall and the Samseong-gak.

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The Dokseong painting inside the Samseong-gak.

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And a look at the Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) mural, as well.

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The beautiful view from the Samseong-gak.

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And a look from the main hall out onto the temple courtyard and the bell pavilion.

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The massive fish gong inside the bell pavilion at Naewonjeongsa Temple.

Temple Stay: Haeinsa Temple (Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The library that houses the over 80,000 wooden tablets that make up the Tripitaka Koreana at Haeinsa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Introduction to the Temple:

Haeinsa Temple (Reflection of the Sea Temple) is beautifully situated in Gayasan National Park. It was first founded in 802 A.D. by Ven. Suneung and Ven. Ijeong, who were carrying on the teachings of Ven. Uisang (625-702 A.D.). Alongside Tongdosa Temple and Songgwangsa Temple, Haeinsa Temple is one of the three treasure temples in Korea. Additionally, it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site for  the famous wood printing blocks known as the “Tripitaka Koreana.” The 80,000 plus blocks are the main highlight to this temple; however, they’re not the only highlight to the well populated temple grounds that house numerous temple buildings.

The Temple Stay program at Haeinsa Temple is called “Live like the Wind and Water, then Leave Your Body!” The program features formal monastic meals, Seon meditation, and hikes that tour the neighbouring mountain hermitages, which are amongst some of the most beautiful in all of Korea.

For more information on Haeinsa Temple, follow this link.

(Courtesy of the Korean Temple Stay website)

Directions:

To get to Haeinsa Temple from Busan, you’ll first have to take the subway to Sasang Subway Station (#227) on the second line. From there, you’ll find the Seobu Intercity Bus Terminal. Inside, you’ll need to order a ticket to Hapcheon. Once you’re in Hapcheon, you can get a bus to Haeinsa Temple for about 4,000 won.

And from Seoul, if you want to take a bus, you’ll need to take subway lines No. 3, No. 7, or No. 9 to the Seoul Express Bus Terminal, and get a bus for Daegu (3 hours 30 minutes). After you arrive in Daegu, take subway line No. 1 from the Dongdaegu Station (next door) in the direction of Daegok, as far as Seongdangmot (about 20 minutes). Then take a bus from the Seobu Intercity Bus Terminal, located at this stop, to Haeinsa (about 1 hour, 40 minutes).

If you’d rather take the train from Seoul, you should take subway lines No. 1 or No. 4 to Seoul Station, and get a KTX Express Train to Dongdaegu Station. After you arrive in Dongdaegu, you can take subway line No. 1 to Seongdangmot, and then the bus to Haeinsa, as described above.


View Larger Map

General Schedule:

Day 1:
15:30~16:20 : Registration
16:20~17:40 : Learning Temple Manners
18:10~18:40 : Temple Dinner
18:40~19:10 : Evening Service
19:10~20:30 : Tea Time with a Monk
20:30~21:00 : Ready for Sleep
21:00 ~ : Sleep

Day 2:
03:00~03:20 : Wake Up & Wash
03:20~04:00 : Dawn Service
04:00~06:10 : 108 Prostraions & Seon (Zen) Practice
06:10~07:20 : Temple Breakfast, Communal Work
07:20~09:00 : Temple Tour of Haeinsa or Hermitage Visits
09:00~10:00 : Closing

(Courtesy of the Korean Temple Stay website)

Haeinsa Temple Information:

Address : 10, Chiin-ri, Gaya-myeon Hapcheon-gun Gyeongsangnam-do
Tel : +82-55-934-3110 / Fax : +82-55-934-3010
homepage : http://www.haeinsa.or.kr
E-mail : haeinsa2@templestay.com

Fees:

Adults: 60,000 won; Teens: 60,000 won; Under 13: 50,000 won

Link:

To make a reservation for the Haeinsa Temple Stay, follow this link.

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Just some of the 80,000 wooden blocks that make up the Triptaka Koreana.

Mahasa Temple – 마하사 (Yeonsan-dong, Busan)

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 The rain falls at Mahasa Temple in Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Mahasa Temple, which is located near Dongnae Subway Station, is virtually unknown in the expat community even though it’s in the heart of Busan. It’s tucked away on the valley folds of Mt. Hwangnyeongsan.

You first approach Mahasa Temple up a twisting and turning road that runs through a gauntlet of old houses until it suddenly opens up and you’re within close proximity to Mt. Hwangnyeongsan. The road suddenly ends in a dead-end, and you’ll be greeted by a sometimes waterless waterfall. The temple sign, which reads “마하사,” will point you right and up a set of wooden stairs towards Mahasa Temple.

Finally, having mounted the stairs, you can look back through the lush forest and enjoy views of both Mt. Hwangnyeongsan and Busan. To your right is a dual purpose Cheonwangmun Gate and bell pavilion. A statue of a childlike dharma keeps the first floor Cheonwangmun Gate company. The gate is beautifully painted with guardians around its exterior, and there are four blue paintings of the Heavenly Kings inside the gate.

Having passed through the gate, you’ll be welcomed by a rather ugly row of buildings. The only saving grace are the beautiful paintings of the Nahan (The Disciples of the Historical Buddha), as well as a painting of the main hall. It isn’t until you pass through the entrance, and under one of the temple buildings, that you emerge on the other side and in the beautiful temple courtyard.

The courtyard is lined with office buildings that frame the temple courtyard. Slightly to the left is the Daeung-jeon (main hall) and the Nahan-jeon. The exterior walls of the main hall are adorned with some nice Shimu-do (Ox-Herding) murals. Also, on each of the buildings corners, and up near the eaves, are uniquely carved wooden elephants. The building walls of the main hall run up against the rock walls of Mt. Hwangnyeongsan. It makes for some great pictures. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, are a triad of statues. Sitting in the centre is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). This triad is backed by a beautiful golden relief and two pillars that are wrapped in dragons. Also, it’s fronted by three statues of the same Buddha and Bodhisattvas, but just a little older in age than the larger ones. Additionally, the triad is joined by a countless amount of smaller sized statues of the Buddha. To the left is a golden guardian relief, and to the right is an equally beautiful golden relief of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).

To the left of the main hall is the Nahan-jeon. The exterior walls have paintings of the Nahan all around them. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, is a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on the main altar by sixteen white statues of the Nahan, as well as a set of paintings illustrating the Disciples of the Historical Buddha.

The only other building at Mahasa Temple that you can explore, and up a large incline of stairs, is the Samseong-gak; however, before climbing the stairs to the Samseong-gak, you can have a look at the five-tier stone pagoda that rests upon a slotted wooden base. As for the Samseong-gak itself, you can enjoy a great view of both the temple grounds and the surrounding mountains from its heights. As for the building, the exterior is adorned with Shinseon. Sitting inside the Samseong-gak are three paintings. They are all beautifully executed, while the Dokseong (The Recluse) and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) paintings looking strikingly similar to the ones found at Botaam Hermitage, near Tongdosa Temple.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Mahasa Temple, you’ll need to first get to Mulmangol (물만골) Subway Station, stop # 304, on the third line. From there, you can take a taxi for about 3,000 won over a 1.6 kilometre distance. You can take a taxi or you can simply walk the distance with a map.


View Larger Map

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. Mahasa Temple is beautifully situated, which is in sharp contrast to hustle and bustle of nearby Busan. The interior to the main hall, as well as the crowning Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall, are two definite highlights to this temple. So if you’re in the area, have a look at the little traveled Mahasa Temple near Dongnae.

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 The sign that leads you towards Mahasa Temple.

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 The foliage you’ll have to look through to see Mt. Hwangnyeongsan

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 A very unique statue to the left of the Cheonwangmun Gate.

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 A look at the Cheonwangmun Gate/ bell pavilion at Mahasa Temple.

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 Two of the Heavenly Kings inside the Cheonwangmun Gate.

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 As you pass through the gate and enter the temple grounds.

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 To get to the inner temple courtyard, you’ll have to first pass through this painted entrance way.

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 But first, a look back at the beautiful surroundings.

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 The first look you get as you enter the temple courtyard. To the left is the main hall and to the right is the elevated Samseong-gak.

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 Surrounding the main hall are ten of the Shimu-do murals.

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 Almost as close to the main hall is the mountain that surrounds it.

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 A look inside the main hall as the monk conducts the morning service.

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 A better look at the triad of statues, times two, on the main altar.

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 A look from the main hall up towards the Samseong-gak.

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 A look at both the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall and the five-tier stone pagoda below it.

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 A better look at the pagoda and the slotted wooden base beneath it.

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 The long stairs up to the shaman shrine hall.

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 Inside is this painting of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).

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 The view from the Samseong-gak out onto the stone lantern and the surrounding mountains.

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 It was raining when we visited, so the fog rolling off the mountains was really quite something.

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 A look across the front of the main hall towards the Nahan-jeon.

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 A good look at the Nahan-jeon.

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A look inside the Nahan-jeon as a monk from Mahasa Temple conducts the morning service.

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 The beautiful tiles that rest on top of one of the administrative buildings at Mahasa Temple.

The Story of…Wonhyoam Hermitage (Busan)

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 The amazing view from Wonhyoam Hermitage…and the hike that nearly killed me to get it.

Hello Again Everyone!!

As I mentioned in a previous posting about Wonhyoam Hermitage, there are literally dozens of Wonhyoam Hermitages throughout the Korean peninsula named after the famous Korean monk, Wonhyo-daesa. And this entry is about another hermitage called Wonhyoam Hermitage.

The difference between this Wonhyoam Hermitage and others is that this one is directly associated with Beomeosa Temple in Busan. In fact, it’s located on the temple grounds and up Mt. Geumjeongsan.

The story all starts when I was exploring some of the hermitages in and around Beomeosa Temple. Initially, I had been attempting to see Geumjeongam Hermitage. One wrong turn later, and I was attempting to see Wonhyoam Hermitage. I had known, or thought I knew, that the two hermitages were close in proximity to each other. So when I was unable to locate one, I was crossing a bridge over Dolbada (The Sea of Rocks), and heading up a mountain in search of a second hermitage.

Without knowing the distance it took from the base of the mountain up to Wonhyoam Hermitage, I was ill prepared for the climb. I didn’t have any water, and I didn’t have my hiking boots on, either. Halfway up the climb, which is about 500 metres straight up, I was wondering what I had got myself into. Resting at the first of many large rocks along the way, sweat covering my body, a stranger walked by me. He kindly offered me water. I must have looked like death when he saw me. Fortunately, this wasn’t the first stranger to offer me assistance along the way.

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 Part of the arduous hike on your way up to Wonhyoam Hermitage.

A further 300 metres up the hike, a hike that I had no idea when it would come to an end, another stranger walked by me as I rested on a rock. His English was great, and he offered me the encouraging words that the hermitage was only another 200 metres up the mountain trail. Before he had told me the distance remaining in the hike, I had been contemplating descending the mountain. I hadn’t seen a sign pointing me in the direction of the hermitage for several hundred metres.

He asked why I was so interested in seeing Wonhyoam Hermitage. I told him that I had heard great things about the hermitage. He then went on to tell me that he visited Wonhyoam Hermitage every weekend, which was a miracle onto itself, considering the distance and stamina it took to see this hermitage located amongst the mountain peaks of Mt. Geumjeongsan.

He suggested that we go together. When I told him that I was going to rest a bit longer, he gave me the most accurate directions to get to the hermitage: through a fenced gate and around a rightward bend in the trail.

Having finally ascended the mountain, I saw both Korean gentlemen that helped aid me in my time of need. With a kind smile exchanged between us, I hung around a bit before descending down the mountain.

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 The older looking main hall at the hermitage.

To me, it’s these moments that remind me of the kinder and gentler side of Korea. It isn’t the driving or balli, balli (hurry, hurry) culture, but the kindness shown from one stranger to the next. And the more I explore the mountain trails and temples of Korea, the more I get to discover the sweeter side of Korea.

For more information on Wonhyoam Hermitage in Busan.

Temple Stay: Bongeunsa Temple (Seoul)

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The view from the large sized Mireuk-bul statue at Bongeunsa Temple in Seoul. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Hello Again Everyone!!

Introduction to the Temple:

Bongeunsa Temple is conveniently located in the posh neighbourhood of Gangnam-gu, Seoul. The temple was first established in 794 A.D., by National Teacher, Ven. Yeonhoe. There are quite a few unique features to this large sized temple including the large stone statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) to the rear of the temple grounds, as well as the beautifully situated and adorned main hall.

Bongeunsa Temple does two types of Temple Stay programs. The first is the more traditional one night and two days program that focuses on a temple tour, a tea ceremony, chanting, mediation, and Buddhist rosary making.

On the other hand, the other program that Bongeunsa Temple conducts is a two and a half hour activity every Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. A number of activities are available such as lotus flower making, mediation, and a tea ceremony.

For more on Bongeunsa Temple.

(Courtesy of the Bongeunsa Temple website)

Directions:

There are two ways to get to Bongeunsa Temple when in Seoul. The first way to get there is to take the No. 2 subway line, get off at Samseong Station and go out through exit No. 6, then walk about 5 minutes in the direction of the Asem Tower.

The other way to get to the temple is to take the No. 7 subway line, get off at Cheongdam Station and go out exit No. 2, then walk about 5 minutes in the direction of Gyeonggi High School.


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General Schedule:

**Not Available**

(Courtesy of the Bongeunsa Temple website)

Bongeunsa Temple Information:

Address : 73, Samseong-dong Gangnam-gu Seoul 135-090 Korea
Tel : +82-2-3218-4895 / Fax : +82-2-544-2141
homepage : http://www.bongeunsa.org
E-mail : bongeunsa@templestay.com

Fees:

Adults: 70,000 won; Teens: 70,000 won; Under 13: 50,000 won (1 night, 2 days)

Adults: 20,000 won; Teens: 20,000 won; Under 13: 10,000 won (Every Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Link:

Reservations for the One Night Two Day Temple Stay Program at Bongeunsa Temple.

Reservations for the Three Hour Temple Stay Program at Bongeunsa Temple.

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 (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Borimsa Temple – 보림사 (Busan, Gijang)

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An amazing angle inside of the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas at BorimsaTemple in Gijang, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

I had driven by this well hidden temple one time before, but it wasn’t until we were returning from Gijang, Busan that I found Borimsa Temple again. Not wanting to let a good opportunity pass me by again, we decided to visit the temple.

When you first make your way up to Borimsa Temple (보림사), you’re greeted by a stately Iljumun Gate. This gate is uniquely decorated with various painted patterns. A little further up the set of stone stairs, and under a canopy of multi-coloured paper lanterns, and you’ll see the main hall at the temple. Around the exterior of the main hall are some rather plain, bordering on the childish, Shimu-do (Ox-Herding) murals; however, the interior of the main hall more than makes up for its exterior. Sitting on the main altar are a triad of golden statues and golden reliefs. Sitting in the centre is Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). He’s flanked by a black haired Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the left, and a regal looking Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right. An equally impressive golden relief is to the right of the main altar. This amazing relief is an interpretation of the guardian mural. The interior of the main hall is extremely impressive to say the least. As for what surrounds the exterior of the main hall, there’s a well weathered, completely natural, bell pavilion. And to the right are some beautiful bouquets of various flowers.

Further up the trail, and on the second terrace, are a couple more shrine halls. The first shrine hall to greet you is the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas. These 1,000 Buddhas are fronted by a triad of statues. And in the centre of this triad is none other than Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). All throughout the interior of this all are some rather impressive Biseon paintings. Have a look up at the ceiling to gain a really good view of some of the more impressive Biseon paintings in Korea. As for the exterior of this hall, it’s surrounded by a set of childish Palsang-do paintings equal to the sophistication of the Shimu-do paintings around the main hall.

Next to the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas is the Geukrak-jeon. The exterior and interior of this hall are rather plain. However, the statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) that sits on the main altar makes up for a lot of this shortcoming.

The final hall that takes up residence at Borimsa Temple is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall that sits on the third terrace at the temple. The exterior paintings, like most of the other paintings at the temple, are rather crude and child-like. There is, however, one redeeming painting of a golden tiger on the right side of the exterior wall. As for the paintings inside the Samseong-gak, it’s the painting of Dokseong (The Recluse) and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) that are the most impressive. In fact, the Sanshin painting is a similar to the painting of this shaman deity found at Tongdosa Temple.

HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll have to get to Nopo Subway Station, line 1, stop #134. At the subway station, you’ll find a bus station. It’s from this bus station that you’ll have to take the bus called “마을버스 #금정구2-3 (Geumjeong-gu 2-3). It’ll take you 13 stops, then you’ll need to get off at the 마지 (Maji) stop. The bus ride will take you about 40 minutes.

The other way you can easily get to the temple is by taking a taxi from Nopo Subway Station. The ride lasts 20 minutes and it costs about 10,000 won. A little more expensive, but in a group, not that bad.


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OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. This temple is a bit of a mixed bag of sorts. While the exterior of the halls are extremely simplistic, bordering on crude, the interiors of the halls are opulent and amazing. Add the Iljumun Gate into the mix, and you get a rating of six and a half points out of ten, in my humblest of opinions.

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The colourful and stately Iljumun Gate at Borimsa Temple.
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A look from behind at the main hall at the temple.
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The rather crude Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals that adorn the exterior of the main hall.
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Some of the beautiful flowers that were in bloom.
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And a look at some more stunning flowers.
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A look inside the main hall at the altar. Sitting in the centre is Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). He’s flanked by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the left and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right.
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And to the right of the main altar is this elaborate guardian relief.
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The all-natural looking bell pavilion.
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On the second terrace is this shrine hall, the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas.
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The rather crude Palsang-do paintings that adorn the exterior of the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas.
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A look inside the amazingly decorative Hall of 1,000 Buddhas.
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Next to the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas is this hall: The Geukrak-jeon.
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And sitting on the altar inside the hall is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).
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And to the far right of this hall is this beautiful courtyard.
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The colourful entrance to the monk quarters at Borimsa Temple.
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And a look out at the valley that Borimsa Temple is situated in.
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The final hall at the temple sits on the third terrace: the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.
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The golden tiger that adorns the exterior wall of the Samseong-gak.
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A look at the Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) painting and statue inside the Samseong-gak.
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And a look at the Dokseong (The Recluse) painting and statue that is also inside the Samseong-gak.

The Story of…Samyeongam Hermitage

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 The front facade to Samyeongam Hermitage at Tongdosa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

There are just so many beautiful and well kept hermitages at Tongdosa Temple. In this case, the Story Of… discusses Samyeongam Hermitage, which is part of a collection of hermitages that surrounds Tongdosa Temple.

When I first visited Samyeongam Hermitage back in 2004, I was blown away by its beauty. I’ve been to my fair share of smaller sized hermitages associated with much larger temples, but Samyeongam Hermitage surpasses most of them. With the twin Koi ponds out in front of the elevated hermitage courtyard, as well as the two pavilions that stretch out over these ponds and the mountains that frame Samyeongam Hermitage, and this hermitage has both natural and artificial beauty.

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 The beautiful pavilion that overlooks the equally beautiful Koi pond.

This beauty is re-affirmed to me each of the handful of times that I’ve re-visited the hermitage throughout the years. But the most memorable moment came in 2012, when I was out taking pictures of the hermitage’s courtyard. The head monk at the hermitage noticed me as he came out of the monks’ quarters. With a passing smile between us, he continued on his way, and I on mine. I continued onto the main hall, where I took some pictures inside the hall while there were no visitors. The head monk noticed this and nicely told me that I should hurry because his morning prayer service was about to start. After that, he disappeared for a bit.

Wanting to get a few more pictures from the hermitage’s courtyard, and down onto the twin Koi ponds, I hovered around one of the pavilions. Suddenly, the window to one of the monks’ quarters swung open. It just so happened to be the head monk, again, holding out a bowl of peanuts for my wife and I. After we took the bowl, he reached down and grabbed some bread, as well. He then motioned us towards the pavilion to enjoy the view and enjoy what he had given us. He then said that if we were still around after the hour long morning prayer, he would like to join us. Unfortunately, we already had plans; otherwise, I’m sure it would have been yet another great conversation with a Korean Buddhist monk.

It’s kind of funny that you set off in exploring a Korean temple or hermitage and you end up eating a bowl of peanuts provided to you by the head monk of a hermitage.

For more information on Samyeongam Hermitage.

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 The view from the restive pavilion.