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.

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