Jangchunsa Temple – 장춘사 (Haman, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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 The Yaksa-jeon at Jangchunsa Temple in Haman, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located up in the mountains of Mt. Mureungsa, in Haman, Gyeongsangnam-do, is Jangchunsa Temple. Jangchunsa Temple was first constructed in 832 A.D. by State Priest Muyeum-guksa. King Heungdeok was rewarding Muyeum for repulsing the Japanese invaders using some sort of mysterious powers to throw off their eastern neighbours.

You first approach the temple up a long mountainous road, until eventually you reach the compact temple grounds. Slightly to the left, and through a low-hanging gate, lies the temple’s main courtyard. Standing in the centre of the temple courtyard is a slender five-tier stone pagoda. All around the pagoda are the temple facilities for the monks like the kitchen, dorms, and visitors’ centre.

Behind the five-tier pagoda is Jangchunsa Temple’s main hall. Rebuilt in 1979, the main hall’s exterior walls are decorated with simple, yet elegant, Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, are a triad of white statues centred by 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). To the right of the main hall hangs a painting dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife), as well as a mural dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). To the left of the main altar, and probably the most masterful painting of the lot, is the older-looking guardian mural. Unfortunately, while I was invited in to pray by two Korean women, they didn’t allow me to take pictures (which I completely respect, as they were praying).

To the right of the main hall is probably the smallest Yongwang-dang shrine hall I have yet to see in Korea. Housed inside the shrine is a framed mural dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King); while the exterior walls are painted with two separate dragon murals, as well as a flaming pearl. To the left of the main hall is the Josa-jeon Hall, which is dedicated to past monks that formerly called Jangchunsa Temple home.

Through a corridor between buildings, and up a set of stairs, you’ll come to the two final shrine halls that visitors can explore at Jangchunsa Temple. The first is the Yaksa-jeon, which houses a rather campy golden statue dedicated to Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). While you wouldn’t realize it when you first look at the stone statue covered in gold paint, the statue of Yaksayore-bul actually dates back to the late Unified Silla Dynasty or the early Goryeo Dynasty. The exterior walls to this diminutive hall are adorned with murals that are dedicated to the life cycle.

A little further along the ridge-line, and you’ll come to the equally small Sanshin-gak. Careful when entering this hall, because the ceiling is extremely low. Housed inside this hall is a beautiful mural dedicated to the Mountain Spirit, Sanshin. It’s also from this vantage point that you get a beautiful look down the valley and down towards the city of Haman.

HOW TO GET THERE: Because Jangchunsa Temple is rather remote, the only way to get to the temple from the Haman Bus Terminal is by car. You can drive your own car, if you have one. The drive should take about 35 minutes. Or if you don’t have your own car, you can take a taxi from the bus terminal. The ride should cost about 35,000 won, one way.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed by Jangchunsa Temple. Usually, if I’m going to travel over an hour to see a temple, I expect a little more. Unfortunately, between its rather small size and the underwhelming golden statue of Yaksayore-bul, this temple didn’t completely deliver. With that said, the interior to the main hall, with its unique statues and paintings, as well as the masterful Sanshin mural are nice in their own right. So if you’re in the area, and you want to do something on a weekend, perhaps Jangchunsa Temple could be an option; however, the neighbouring Neunggasa Temple is the better option of the two.

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The temple as you approach.

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The entry gate to the temple courtyard.

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One of the fierce guardians adorning the temple gate.

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A look up towards the temple’s main hall.

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The extremely compact Yongwang-dang.

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One of the beautiful paintings adorning the Yongwang-dang.

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One of the Ox-Herding murals decorating the exterior walls to the main hall.

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The corridor that leads past the Josa-jeon and up towards the upper courtyard.

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The stone stairs that lead the way with the Yaksa-jeon in sight.

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One of the life-cycle paintings adorning the Yaksa-jeon.

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The one thousand year old, golden Yaksayore-bul.

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The neighbouring Sanshin-gak.

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With a look inside at the mural dedicated to Sanshin.

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And the beautiful view from the Sanshin-gak.

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