Seongamsa Temple – 성암사 (Nam-gu, Busan)

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The fall colours at Seongamsa Temple in Nam-gu, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

On the southern slopes of Mt. Hwangryeongsan in Nam-gu, Busan lies Seongamsa Temple. Through some twists and turns in the road and down some back alleys, you’ll come to this well-hidden temple.

You’ll know you’re close when you come to the end of the narrow road and there’s a parking lot. Up a slight bend in an adjoining road, it’ll lead you towards Seongamsa Temple. As you enter the temple courtyard, you’ll notice that it’s surrounded on all sides by beautiful, mature trees that are especially colourful during the autumn months.

The first building, rather uniquely, to greet you at the temple as you approach from the side is the Daeung-jeon main hall. The rather boxy main hall disguises the elaborate interior. As you first enter the main hall, you’re greeted by a set of Gwaneeum-bosal murals. The main hall, while narrow, runs rather deep with a wide main altar. Sitting in the centre of a triad of statues is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). And all three are surrounded by miniature statues of the Buddha. To the far right sits Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha); while to the far left sits a golden capped Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) who is surrounded by tiny, white statues of himself. And on the far right wall hangs one of the larger guardian murals I have yet to see at a Korean temple.

Past the temple’s bell pavilion, and just beyond the narrow seven-tier stone pagoda, sits the rather large Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Housed inside this hall are a set of beautiful shaman murals. While the Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) and Chilseong (The Seven Stars) murals are rather typical in their design, it’s the Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) mural that really stands out. Dressed in a yellow robe with a brown headdress, the Seongamsa Temple Sanshin really makes an impression.

A little hidden, but not impossible to find to the right of the Samseong-gak, you’ll see a brick wall with an opening in the centre of it. This is the Yongwang-dang. With wall-to-wall lights, ornamental stone flooring, and a radiant Yongwang mural, this Yongwang-dang is different from most others that I’ve seen in Korea. Of course, it’s the intricate mural dedicated to the Dragon King that truly stands out with three swirling dragons and a majestically seated Yongwang in the centre of it all. Have a look and get your fill, because this Yongwang mural is one of the best of its kind.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Munjeon Subway stop, line #2, stop #217 , you can board a taxi after exiting out exit #2 or #4. The ride should last about ten minutes, and it should cost you about 4,000 won. Either that, or you can simply walk the distance towards the temple. Head east towards Munhyeon Elementary School and the Munhyeon Girls High School. To head in this direction, go out exit #2. When you arrive at the schools, you should continue towards Hyeondae apartment. It’s just behind these apartments that you’ll find Seongamsa Temple. The walk should take you just under 30 minutes to cover the two kilometre stretch.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. It’s the shaman murals of Yongwang and Sanshin that really stand out about this temple; however, with that said, the autumnal hues and the elaborate main hall are something to have a look at, as well, when you visit Seongamsa Temple in Nam-gu, Busan. While little visited by foreigners, it’s well worth the effort to go and see, especially if you’re in the area.

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The view from the temple.

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A look up towards Mt. Hwangryeongsan.

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As you first enter the temple grounds.

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The temple’s main hall.

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Inside the main hall with a look at the main altar.

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A look to the right reveals Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha).

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Keeping Yaksayore-bul company is this massive guardian mural.

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While to the left is this golden Jijang-bosal statue.

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Lining the interior of the main hall are several murals dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal.

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A look towards the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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Inside reveals this amazing Sanshin mural.

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The Yongwang-dang entrance.

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Inside is this beautiful mural dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King).

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Finally, it was time to go.

Sanbangsa Temple – 산방사 (Seogwipo, Jeju-do)

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 The beautiful shrine at Sanbangsa Temple in Seogwipo, Jeju-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Just to the west of Bomunsa Temple, literally a ten foot walk, is Sanbangsa Temple. This hard to identify temple, simply because it looks like an extension of Bomunsa Temple, has quite a few unique features to it.

As you make your way up towards Sanbangsa Temple, you’ll be greeted by the stately bell pavilion that is beautifully framed by Mt. Sanbangsan. The bell pavilion is joined by a couple of masterful sculptures dedicated to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise), as well as Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Next to these statues stands a cairn constructed from the dark black volcanic rock that is everywhere on Jeju-do Island.

Just a little further along, and up a couple more sets of stairs, you’ll enter the temple courtyard. Straight ahead lays the main hall. Inside this hall are numerous murals that line the walls. These paintings include a mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife), Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Chilseong (The Seven Stars), Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), a Gamno-do mural, and Samshin (Shaman Deity of Birth). Samshin is an extremely rare deity to find at a temple, so have a look at the far right corner of the main hall to see this grandmother figure. Finally, sitting on the main altar are a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Jijang-bosal and Gwanseeum-bosal.

The final thing to enjoy at Sanbangsa Temple is an altar just to the right of the main hall. This colourful altar is inhabited by numerous green statues of Gwanseeum-bosal. At the head of the altar are a triad of stone statues composed of Seokgamoni-bul, Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). This entire statue is fronted by yet another masterful statue of an elegant Gwanseeum-bosal.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Seogwipo Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take bus #702 for 22 stops. The ride should last about an hour and eleven minutes, and you’ll need to get off at the Sanbangsan bus stop. From this stop, you’ll be able to see the temple on the mountain to the left of Bomunsa Temple.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10. While it’s the least spectacular of the three, which includes Bomunsa Temple and Sanbanggulsa Temple, Sanbangsa Temple is a nice addition to this set. With its beautiful views, its green Gwanseeum-bosal shrine, and the shaman Samshin mural, this temple can add a lot of unique features to your temple travels, especially if you’re already in the area.

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The beautifully framed bell pavilion at Sanbangsa Temple.

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The view from the main hall.

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A look up at the main hall and Mt. Sanbangsan.

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Another beautiful statue of Gwanseeum-bosal at Sanbangsa Temple.

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The amazing green altar at the temple.

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The main altar inside the main hall.

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A set of murals that line the walls of the main hall including the Samshin mural to the far right.

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The Gamno-do mural.

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And the guardian mural.

Yeonjuam Hermitage/Yeonjudae – 연주암/연주대 (Gwacheon, Gyeonggi-do)

 

Yeonjudae, viewed from the look off

Throughout my years of living and traveling in Korea, I’ve always had a small collection of “comfort” places that I tried to get back to now and again, depending on where I lived. I appreciate the sense of intimacy that develops from this relationship with a place; getting to know some of the locals, enjoying a specific restaurant, finding hidden trails, knowing a place through the four seasons. Since moving to suburban Seoul, Yeonjuam Hermitage, and its spectacular Yeonjudae, perched on the edge of a sharp cliff, has been one of those places.

The great and fondly remembered monk, Uisang Daesa, is credited with having first established the temple in 677. The complex of halls and shrines were rebuilt, starting in 1392 and continuing throughout the 1400’s. This early-Joseon era complex was completely wiped out and buried by a landslide, eventually being relocated higher up the slopes, on safer grounds, I assume. Much of the temple, in its current incarnation, was built during or after the 1970’s. Its original name was Uisangdae, but was changed to Yeonjudae (戀主臺), which roughly translated to “Adoring the Kingdom Cliff”. There are two legends attached to this name. The first is that loyalists of the fallen Goryeo Dynasty came to stay here as the view allowed them to peer across at their former kingdom in longing. The second is that two princes, Yang-Ryeong and Hyo-Ryeong, retreated here after their younger brother was named their father’s successor (and became the Great King Sejong). From here they looked over the kingdom, longing for the throne. I think both instances are plausible. If it was already a place known for its view of Seoul, it makes sense that the two brothers would have also chosen to come here. In the ruins that were excavated, several dragon and phoenix insignia were found, meaning this temple was strongly connected to the royal palace.

It’s not an easy temple to get to, you must hike, and it wasn’t until my third attempt that I managed to find the right trail. If your goal is just to see this temple (not a bad reason to climb Mt. Gwanaksan!), the most direct route starts by Gwacheon Hyanggyo, 500 meters up from Gwacheon subway station. Following a gorgeous, rocky trail along the stream that flows down from the temple, you eventually arrive at a steep, massive stone staircase that leads to the courtyard between the Gwaneum-jeon and the temple office. The Gwaneum-jeon houses a severe looking 1000-armed Gwanseum-bosal, quite stunning actually. During my last visit, in May, the Hall of Arhats had been completely torn down and the collection of hand-carved statues, each one unique, were sitting in the far-side of the Gwaneum-jeon. They are some of the best wooden Arahat carvings in Korea, and the largest collection I’ve encountered

Turning left, you face the courtyard and a medium-sized stone pagoda with the main hall standing behind. To the left of the main hall, upon a terrace is the temple bell and further up the slope is the Hyo Ryeong Hall enshrines the portrait of Grand Prince Hyo Ryeong. To the right of the main hall, the trail continues beneath some twisted pines, where I often see a couple of morning doves. It leads a short way up to a beautiful little Samseong-gak, with a wonderful old set of paintings, from left to right, Sanshin, Chilseong, and Dokseong. The quality of the work executed on these paintings is quite exquisite.

From here, bear right and follow the path to the top of a small crag where a brand new white pagoda has been installed. Or, head left, past where the Hall of Arhats had been and continue along the stone path about 400 meters to Yeonjudae. There is a couple of tricky steps, so watch your footing. About halfway to the top, there is a look-off that gives you the best photo-op. I usually spend a fair amount of time here, soaking it in. For some, just this view might be enough but if you wish to continue to the shrine, at the peak follow the rope and stainless rail as it veers right of the peak.

Climbing over the granite stones is a bit treacherous, especially in the ice or rain, but with a little extra care, it’s not too bad. As you approach, there is a sign asking that day-hikers do not enter, as it’s a site of devotion, but no one will turn you away. That said, an amount of respect is best shown. As you round the wall of granite that keeps Yeonjudae hidden until you’re right beside it, there is a white Medicine Buddha carved in the wall that is said to have magical healing powers for those who pray to it. In front of the shrine, there is usually a crowd gathered doing bows (it’s a great place for 108 if your knees feel up to it!). The view from in front of the shrine is spectacular, spanning all of Seoul. Taking pictures of the view isn’t a problem but you’ll have to use cunning to photograph the shrine, when none of the attendants are looking. My favorite spot to sit and have a snack is on the far side of the shrine, between the rail and the cliff. I like to grab a mat and looking across, over Yeonjuam Hermitage.

At this point, I’ll head back to the Gwaneum-jeon, where on the bottom floor, half way down the stone stairs, there is a dining hall (Don’t wait too long, it’s not open long passed noon). The bibimbab is a bit salty but the doenjang guk hits the spot and is always appreciated for the hike down the hill. The food is free but it’s temple etiquette to eat all your food.

HOW TO GET THERE: The best root is from Gwacheon Station, Line 4. Take exit 7 and head straight up the path, about 400 meters, then turn left when you reach the end. After another 100 meters or so, you will arrive at the trail-head, an open space with a large stream bed and a bridge that leads to Gwacheon Hyanggyo. Cross the bridge and continue past the vendors selling gimbap, boiled eggs, drinks, and hiking gear. It could take anywhere from one to two hours to reach Yeonjuam Hermitage, depending on your pace.

There are several trails that lead to the peak, including from Sadang Station and the Seoul National University grounds, but I’m not familiar enough to recommend them. These trails have stunning mountain scenery but are quite long and very easy to get lost on if you do not know the way.

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10 I give Yeonjuam Hermitage bonus points for being a lively temple with a great atmosphere at the top of a mountain. This is a rare experience. If it were at the base of the mountain, it wouldn’t seem nearly as spectacular. Also, the view of Yeonjudae is a 10/10. Absolutely stunning, and worth a bonus point, for sure!

Gwacheon Hyanggyo, you’ll know you’re at the trail when you see this

scenery early along the trail

arriving at Yeonjuam, the dining hall and large Gwaneum-jeon on the left

the thousand-armed Gwanseum-bosal

Yeonjuam Hermitages’s Three-Storey Stoen Pagoda and Daeung-jeon (Great Dharma Hall) beyond

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The temple bell. I love being around when they are rung. It vibrates through your chest.

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cushions

reciting a sutra

this small hall houses Prince Hyo-Ryeong’s painting

Arhat Hall

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follow the rail to the right (BTW, you should have excellent cellphone reception up here!)

almost there!

 

the health-giving Medicine Buddha

lay-people, bowing at Yeonjudae

late spring

early fall

mid winter

lunch

Bukjijangsa Temple – 북지장사 (Daegu)

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Nature reclaiming its own at Bukjijangsa Temple in northern Daegu.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Bukjijangsa Temple is located on the south side of the famed Mt. Palgongsan in northern Daegu. In English, the name means “North Jijang Temple,” after the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife. The temple was first believed to have been constructed in 465 A.D. by the monk Guktal-hwasang.

You first approach the temple up a long, uneven, country road. In a bend in the road, and slightly to the right, you’ll encounter the temple’s entry gate. This gate is overgrown by shrubbery, which almost seems like nature is trying to reclaim it. As you enter the gate, you’ll notice two fiercely painted guardians on either side of the walls.

Finally having passed through the entry gate, you’ll find yourself being greeted by the compact main hall. The main hall, which was first constructed in 1623, is largely unadorned all but for the dancheong colour schemes on the exterior walls. Rather remarkably, and this is a first for me, Jijang-bosal sits all alone on the main altar. This stone statue was first found behind the main hall. The mudra that Jijang is striking is a symbolic gesture to ward off evil spirits. It’s believed to date back to the latter half of the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.). And while it was found without a pedestal or nimbus, the statue is extremely well preserved for its age.

Just to the left of the main hall is a room, alongside monks’ dorms, that houses a plain shrine hall. Sitting in the centre of the triad of statues is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). Uniquely, this triad is joined on the side by a masterful wooden sculpture of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), which is then framed by a fairly common painting of Yongwang (The Dragon King).

One more building in this courtyard is the Sanshin-gak, which houses a gentle-looking mural of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). Uniquely, there are wooden dragon-like door handles placed on all the entries to this shaman shrine hall.

The final part of the temple you can visit is past another set of monks’ dorms and a storage shed, both of which have seen better days. However, during the fall months, the monks hang persimmons from the eaves for them to dry in the warm sunlight. Just behind this storage shed is the Jijang-jeon. For obvious reasons, this hall is extremely popular at Bukjijangsa Temple.

Out in front of this hall are a twin pair of three-story stone pagodas that are believed to date back to the Silla Dynasty. While rather typical in design, they are well preserved and joined by a koi pond near the exit that is well stocked with large fish.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Bukjijangsa Temple is a bit complicated. First, from the Dong Daegu subway stop, you’ll need to head towards Ansim, which is on the first line. After two stops, get off at Ahyanggyo subway stop. Take exit # 2 and head towards the bus station. From there, you can either take bus #401 during the weekdays or the Palgong #2 bus on weekends or holidays. The bus ride will last 30 stops; after which, you’ll need to get off at the Jinin-dong (yangji maeul) stop. From there, you’ll need to walk 25 minutes towards the Daegu Ole gil Palgongsan 1 course (hiking trail). On foot, you’ll head up this road for 18 minutes, or 1.2 km.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. Bukjijangsa Temple is beautifully framed by the towering Mt. Palgongsan. In addition to its natural beauty, you can also enjoy the historic, and extremely rare, stone statue of Jijang-bosal that sits inside the main hall. There’s a lot to see at this temple on a restful autumn day.

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A persimmon tree at the entry of the temple.

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Fall colours at Bukjijangsa Temple.

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One of the guardians inside the entry gate at the temple.

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The compact main hall at Bukjijangsa Temple.

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The very rare statue of Jijang-bosal inside the main hall.

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To the left, and inside a makeshift hall, is this triad of statues.

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Just to their right are Dokseong and Yongwang.

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The Sanshin-gak to the rear of the main hall.

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Just one of the dragon-like door handles adorning the Sanshin-gak.

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The mural of Sanshin inside the shaman shrine hall.

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The view from the Sanshin-gak.

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And a look towards the main hall.

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The popular Jijang-jeon at Bukjijangsa Temple.

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A storage building with persimmons hanging from the eaves.

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One of the Silla-era pagodas.

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 And finally, the koi pond at the temple.

Jungsaengsa Temple/Neungji-tap – 중생사/능지탑 (Gyeongju)

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The beautiful Neungji-tap Site in Gyeongju.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located on the west side of Mt. Nangsan, which is more of a hill than a mountain at an elevation of a couple hundred metres, is the famed Neungji-tap Site. Located just outside Jungsaengsa Temple is the four and a half metre tall two-story stone pagoda. The pagoda was first built during the Unified Silla Period (668-935 A.D). It’s believed that the pagoda was built as a tomb. Also, it’s believed that the famed King Munmu’s cremation might have taken place at this site. The foundation to the Neungji-tap Pagoda was reconstructed in 1979, and the two story pagoda was once believed to tower five stories in height. And around its granite base are all 12 of the zodiac generals. The open field is lined by mature red pines, and the left over stonework from its reconstruction in 1979 are left lying to the north of the site.

Just a little further along the narrow dirt road, and you’ll come to the beautiful Jungsaengsa Temple. Straight ahead is the compact, but older looking, main hall. The exterior walls to the main hall are lined with two sets of paintings. The first, which is on top, are quickly fading Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. These bluish tinged murals are joined by pastoral paintings in a yellow hue. As for inside this hall, and sitting all alone on the main altar, sits Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). He’s backed by two beautiful dragon murals. The entire interior to the main hall is lined with older Buddhist themed murals like Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) together in the same mural. There is also a curmudgeonly looking dharma, an agwi, as well as a whole host of murals inside. An older looking guardian mural hangs to the left of the main altar.

To the right of the main hall are a set of temple buildings, including the temple’s kitchen. It’s just past this building, and up a long set of stairs, that you’ll come to the newly built Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. There is a pair of fierce-looking tigers just outside the hall’s doors. These paintings prepare you for some of the most beautiful shaman paintings dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Chilseong (The Seven Stars), and Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) in all of Korea. Have an especially close look at the colourful peacock fan that Sanshin is holding. Simply stunning!

And just to the left of the main hall, and past the monks’ dorms, is the Rock Carved Seated Buddha Triad of Mt. Nangsan. Up a little pathway, and under a newly built wooden pavilion, rest the badly faded triad. In the centre sits the best kept of the three: an image of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). You’ll have to look closely to see the almost unrecognizable stone reliefs dedicated to the other two images of the Bodhisattvas. If you look close enough, you’ll notice that these Bodhisattvas are holding weapons. It’s believed that this relief dates back to the Unified Silla Dynasty (668-935 A.D).

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to board Bus #604 towards the Gyeongju National Museum. The bus ride lasts 9 stops, and you’ll need to get off at the Cheotbaeban Stop (첫배반). From the stop, walk nice minutes uphill towards both Jungsaengsa Temple and Neungji-tap.

OVERALL RATING: 7/10. Combining the two together, both Neungji-tap and Jungsaengsa Temple, makes for a pleasant trip to one of the lesser known sites in Gyeongju. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but they are well worth a visit. Neungji-tap pagoda is beautiful in its quiet simplicity, while Jungsaegsa Temple has a little bit of everything for everyone from its masterful shaman paintings to its ancient rock relief. So if you want something a bit different, and outside the norm in Gyeongju, then look no further than these two sites.

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The two-story Neungji-tap Site in central Gyeongju.

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A look as you first approach the pagoda up the pathway.

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A closer look at the second-tier of the pagoda.

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Just one of the zodiac generals that guards the base of the structure.

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One last look before heading towards Jungsaengsa Temple.

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The view as you first enter the temple grounds.

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The pavilion that houses the fading images of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas.

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A closer look at the fading triad. Look closely!

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Perhaps a better angle to see Seokgamoni-bul joined to the left by a fading Bodhisattva.

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The main hall at Jungsaengsa Temple.

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One of the yellow pastoral paintings that adorns its exterior walls.

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The main altar with Birojana-bul front and centre.

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To the left hangs this guardian mural.

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If you look up towards the rafters, you’ll see a pair of beautifully crafted dragons’ heads.

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A curious looking agwi.

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The newly built Samseong-gak.

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A smiling Dokseong.

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Joined by an equally stunning Sanshin mural.

Jusaam Hermitage – 주사암 (Gyeongju)

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The amazing fall foliage at Jusaam Hermitage in northern Gyeongju.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located on the northern part of Mt. Obongsan in the northern portion of Gyeongju sits Jusaam Hermitage. Up a long and winding road that is precarious in parts, you’ll finally arrive at the end of the road where the beautiful hermitage lies.

In a gap in the mountain’s rocks is the entry to Jusaam Hermitage. In fall, this part of the hermitage is beautifully coloured in autumnal hues. Past the hermitage’s visitors centre aligns a row of hermitage buildings that begins with the main hall, or the 큰법당, as it’s called at the hermitage. The exterior walls are painted in variously themed Buddhist motifs. As for the interior, and rather interestingly, the entire interior is lined with miniature statues of what looks to be Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Resting on the main altar are five smaller sized statues in vaulted wooden alcoves. Sitting in the centre is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha), who is joined on either immediate side by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal. And on the far left wall is a descriptive guardian mural.

Next to the main hall is the newly constructed Nahan-jeon. Housed inside this shrine hall is a triad of statues resting on the main altar. Sitting in the centre of these statues is a rather squat, golden statue dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul. He’s joined on either side by wooden depictions of the Historical Disciples of the Buddha.

Out in front of the Nahan-jeon is a beautifully placed bell pavilion that has a scenic view of the mountains off in the distance and the rolling valley down below. Just to the rear of the bell pavilion, and up a set of side-winding stairs, is the Samseong-gak. Housed inside this shaman shrine hall are some of the oldest murals dedicated to these shaman deities in a collection at one hermitage. The scowling Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) is of special interest. However, Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), Chilseong (The Seven Stars), and Yongwang (The Dragon King) are something to enjoy, as well.

Down the set of stairs to the left of the bell pavilion, and to the right of the monks’ dorms, is a beautiful, rocky cliff that looks out over nature from 600 metres up. The name of the rocky cliff is Madang Bawi, and it was the location for the very popular Korean T.V. drama about the famed Queen Seondeok. But the views, truly, are outdone by very few other places in Korea.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take Bus #704 towards Ahwa. You’ll need to ride the bus for 18 stops and get off at the Ahwa Intercity Bus Terminal. From there, you’ll need to take a taxi the rest of the way. The ride will take about 30 minutes, and it’ll cost about 10,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. The first place to start with this hermitage is its location. With its beautiful fall leaves to its dazzling views, Jusaam Hermitage truly has it all when it comes to nature. And then, when you add into the mix the historically, and beautifully crafted, shaman paintings, as well as the uniquely designed interior to the main hall, and you’ll need to make your way all the way up to Mt. Obongsan to see the beautiful Jusaam Hermitage in Gyeongju. A bit off the beaten path, it’s well worth the trek.

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The road that leads up to the hermitage.

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The V-like entry of rocks at Jusaam Hermitage.

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Some of the beautiful fall foliage at the hermitage.

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The row of hermitage buildings at Jusaam Hermitage.

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A look inside the rather unique main hall.

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The Nahan-jeon to the left of the main hall.

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A look inside at the main altar inside the Nahan-jeon.

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The amazing view that the bell pavilion gets to enjoy.

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A look up towards the Samseong-gak.

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The curmudgeonly-looking Sanshin inside the Samseong-gak.

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And the accompanying Yongwang painting.

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The beautiful view from the Samseong-gak.

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A look out towards Madang Bawi.

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The amazing view!

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A look towards some of the neighbouring fall foliage.

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Another amazing view.

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One last look out towards northern Gyeongju.

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A canopy of fall colours at Jusaam Hermitage.

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And one last look from the main hall before it was time to go.