Bongseosa Temple – 봉서사 (Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

The view from next to the main hall at Bongseosa Temple in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Like so many temples in the Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do area, Bongseosa Temple is located in and around the Mt. Muhaksan area. Specifically, Bongseosa Temple is located to the east of Seohaksa Temple and on the eastern slopes of the mountain near a cluster of older apartments.

On the last road before the mountain begins, you’ll find a long set of stairs that leads up to the Bongseosa Temple grounds. Passing through the beautiful Iljumun/Cheonwangmun Gate combination, you’ll notice four paintings of the Four Heavenly Kings next to each of the gate’s pillars. To the left where the trail takes you, you’ll find a stone statue of a child-like Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom).

Just beyond the Munsu-bosal statue is the main temple courtyard. To the right are the monks’ facilities like the kitchen and to the left are the monks’ dorms. Between both of these sets of buildings is Bongseosa Temple’s main hall. The exterior walls to the main hall are adorned with the Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, mural set and the Palsang-do mural set, as well.

Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll notice a glassed off interior that houses the triad of statues on the main altar. In the centre sits Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). All three are beautiful in their complex designs. To the right of the main altar is a newly painted guardian mural and to the left are judgment murals for the afterlife.

To the right of the main hall, and almost fully encompassed by the temple’s facilities, is the temple’s large bronze bell. And out in front of the main hall is a stately five tier stone pagoda with ornate stone lanterns on either side.

To the rear of the main hall, rather strangely housed in a sheet metal looking shed, is the slender Yongwang-dang. Housed inside this peculiar shaman shrine hall is an older looking mural dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). And to the left of this painting is an Indian wooden relief of the various stages from the Buddha’s life.

The final shrine hall that visitors can explore at Bongseosa Temple is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Housed inside this hall are three wooden reliefs dedicated to the three most popular shaman deities in Korea: Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) and Chilseong (The Seven Stars).

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Masan Intercity Bus Terminal, there are several buses that go to where Bongseosa Temple is located. One of these buses is Bus #707. After eight stops, or sixteen minutes, you’ll need to get off at the “Seowongok Ipgu” stop. From the stop, walk north for about a kilometre and then head towards the mountain to your left. There will be signs along the way to guide you.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. The main highlights to Bongseosa Temple are the main hall altar pieces, as well as the older Yongwang painting to the rear of the main hall. Other highlights are the temple’s bronze bell as well as the temple’s stone pagoda.

The Iljumun/Cheonwangmun Gate at Bongseosa Temple.

One of the Four Heavenly Kings housed inside the Iljumun/Cheonwangmun Gate.

The child-like statue of Munsu-bosal.

The main hall at Bongseosa Temple.

One of the Ox-Herding murals that adorns the main hall.

As well as the last painting of the Palsang-do murals.

A look inside the main hall at Bongseosa Temple.

This Judgment mural is painted on the wall to the left of the main altar.

The view from the main hall out towards the temple’s stone pagoda and row upon row of apartments in Masan.

The large bronze bell at Bongseosa Temple.

The older Yongwang mural to the rear of the main hall.

It’s joined by this panel from the wooden relief of the Buddha’s life.

As well as this one.

The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

The wooden relief of Dokseong housed inside the Samseong-gak.

As well as this Sanshin relief.

And the view from the Samseong-gak.

Seohaksa Temple – 서학사 (Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

The view from Seohaksa Temple in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Seohaksa Temple is located on the eastern side of Mt. Muhaksan (761.4 m) in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do. And the view out towards the Masan harbor, especially in the early morning, is stunning.

Up a steep incline, and a paved road, you’ll find Seohaksa Temple on a 250 metre plateau on the mountain range. The first thing to greet you to the right of the temple grounds are the monks’ dorms and temple facilities. It’s past this cluster of buildings that you’ll finally enter the main temple courtyard at Seohaksa Temple.

Standing in the middle of the temple courtyard are a pair of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) statues. The one to the left is a taller more refined image of the Bodhisattva, while the one to the right is a little less polished. And both statues are backed by a wall of mountain rocks.

To the right of the main hall is an all brick shrine hall. I haven’t seen too many of these around Korea. Housed inside this hall is a contemplative statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha).

To the left of the courtyard statues is the temple’s main hall. Surrounding the exterior walls to the main hall that looks out towards Masan harbor are a pair of mural sets. On the bottom are the ten Ox-Herding murals. And on top of these murals are eight standard paintings of the Palsang-do set. Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll see a triad of statues resting on the main hall. In the centre sits Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). And he’s joined to the right by Gwanseeum-bosal and to the left by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). All three statues have a fiery golden nimbus surrounding their heads. To the right of the main altar is the guardian mural and a rather plain Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural. And to the left are two older murals. The first is dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King); but it’s the older, more curmudgeonly image of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) that you’ll need to keep an eye out for.

To the rear of the main hall, and up a very steep set of stairs, you’ll find the extremely compact Sanshin-gak. Housed inside this hall is a rather plain looking image of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). But it’s from this shaman shrine hall that you get the best views of the valley and harbor down below.

Rather strangely, and to the left of the actual temple grounds, is another Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. You’ll need to exit the temple grounds and climb your way up a set of uneven stairs that run alongside the main temple grounds, to get to this shaman shrine hall. It’s strange because this Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall is on the other side of the walls for Seohaksa Temple. I’m not sure if this is a Samseong-gak for Mt. Muhaksan or whether a monk is making a statement at Seohaksa Temple; but either way, it’s a first for me. Housed inside the Samseong-gak is a plain image of Dokseong. There’s  also an older image of Chilseong, but it’s the Sanshin mural reminiscent of Water Moon Gwaneum Painting that should captor your eye with its deep implicit meaning.

And it’s just above this Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall, and up another set of uneven stairs, that you’ll find one last shrine hall at Seohaksa Temple. This time, it’s a compact Yongwang-dang dedicated to the Dragon King. This time, there’s a stone image and a painting dedicated to Yongwang.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Masan Intercity Bus Terminal, there are several buses that go to where Seohaksa Temple is located. One of these buses is Bus #707. After eight stops, or sixteen minutes, you’ll need to get off at the “Seowongok Ipgu” stop. From the stop, walk about twenty to twenty-five minutes to Seohaksa Temple. There are several signs that lead you in the direction of the temple so just follow them along the way. But be prepared for a bit of a hike at the end.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. It’s the views at Seohaksa Temple that gives it such a high rating. The views are pretty special. Adding to the temple’s natural beauty is all the shaman iconography spread throughout the temple grounds, as well as the main hall’s statues that rest on the altar. While a bit of a climb to get to, this temple is worth the effort.

The sign out in front of the temple bathroom leading you towards the temple grounds at Seohaksa Temple.

The monks’ dorms and temple facilities.

The shrine hall that houses Mireuk-bul.

A look inside at the Future Buddha.

The pair of statues of Gwanseeum-bosal in the temple courtyard with the Sanshin-gak perched above them.

A look at the main hall at Seohaksa Temple.

One of the Palsang-do murals.

As well as one of the Ox-Herding murals.

The guardian mural housed inside the main hall.

Joined by this Chilseong mural to the right of the main altar.

The beautiful view even from inside the main hall at Seohaksa Temple.

The main altar statues with their decorative fiery nimbus’ surrounding each of their heads.

The Yongwang mural to the left of the main altar.

Joined by this angry looking Dokseong mural.

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

The plastic covered painting dedicated to Sanshin.

The amazing view from the Sanshin-gak at Seohaksa Temple.

The sun peaking in under the roof of the main hall.

The temple’s slender pagoda and the wall that separates the temple grounds from the outlying Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

The aforementioned Samseong-gak.

Which houses this older image of Chilseong.

The Sanshin mural that’s reminiscent of the Water Moon Gwaneum Painting.

To the rear of the Samseong-gak is a Yongwang-dang that houses both images of the Dragon King.

Hakryongsa Temple – 학룡사 (Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

The bell pavilion at Hakryongsa Temple in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

To the south of Mt. Muhaksan in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do sits the compact grounds to Hakryongsa Temple. You first approach the temple grounds off a highway that runs through the city and across from Cheonggu Genesis apartments.

The first thing to greet you at the temple is Hakryongsa Temple’s entry gate. Each gate door is decorated with two intimidating guardian paintings. As you enter through this gate, you’ll notice four life-size stone statues of the Four Heavenly Kings. To the right of these nicely executed statues is the temple’s bell pavilion. The temple’s bell hangs on the second floor of this structure, as you make your way past the temple’s facilities and towards the main hall at Hakryongsa Temple.

Out in front of the main hall are a collection of stone statues. The first four statues fronting the collection of stone monuments, and starting from the left, is a tall statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). To her right are two seated statues. The first is of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha), while the other is of Gwanseeum-bosal. The other statue in this collection is Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). And all four statues are backed by a collection of stone Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha) statues.

The exterior walls to the main hall are decorated with various Buddhist motif murals like the Bodhidharma. Also, the front latticework has detailed images of Nathwi at the base of the front doors. Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll notice a triad of statues on the main altar. In the centre sits a seated statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). To the left of this triad, and hanging on the wall, are a pair of wooden relief carvings. The first is a guardian relief, while the other is a relief dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). And to the right of the main altar is a wooden relief dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).

To the left of the main hall rests the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. As you first step into this hall, you’ll be greeted by a rather plain Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) painting, as well as a Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural to its left. But it’s the mural to the far left, the Yongwang mural, that’s the highlight of the three with a descriptive depiction of The Dragon King.

The final hall that visitors can explore at Hakryongsa Temple is the Nahan-jeon Hall to the left of the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Inside this newly built hall are row upon row of smaller sized statues dedicated to the Nahan. Seated in the middle of these beautiful statues is a triad centred by Seokgamoni-bul and joined on either side by Mireuk-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Future) and Jaehwagalra-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Past).

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Masan Nambu Intercity Bus Terminal, there is a bus stop at the McDonald’s. From there, take bus #262. After nine stops, or twelve minutes, get off at the Jeonwon APT stop. From there, walk about five minutes, or 340 metres, to get to Hakryongsa Temple.

OVERALL RATING: 3.5/10. This temple’s main highlights are the statues strewn throughout the compact temple grounds at Hakryongsa Temple. The first of these beautiful statues are the Heavenly Kings that welcome you at the entry gate and continue onto the collection just out in front of the main hall. And they end with the colourful rows of Nahan inside the Nahan-jeon Hall.

The greeting stone that welcomes you to the temple.

The entry gate at Hakryongsa Temple.

Three of the Four Heavenly Kings just inside the temple entry gate.

With an up close of the fourth.

The collection of stone statues just out in front of the main hall.

And a closer look at the rows of Nahan statues.

A look across the front of the main hall up towards Mt. Muhaksan in the background.

The painting of the Bodhidharma that adorns one of the exterior walls to the main hall at Hakryongsa Temple.

One of the Nathwi reliefs adorning the main hall.

The main altar inside the main hall.

The wooden carving guardian relief inside the main hall.

Joined by this relief of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

And to the right of the main altar is this relief dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).

The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall to the left of the main hall.

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

And to the left of the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall is the Nahan-jeon Hall.

The main altar inside the Nahan-jeon Hall.

Which is then surrounded on both sides by these colourful statues of the Nahan.

The temple pagoda out in front of the Nahan-jeon Hall with the bell pavilion in the background.