Janggoksa Temple – 장곡사 (Cheongyang, Chungcheongnam-do)

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The lower courtyard at Janggoksa Temple in Cheongyang, Chungcheongnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located in Cheongyang, Chungcheongnam-do on the slopes of Mt. Chilgapsan, Janggoksa Temple was first established in 850 A.D. by Master Bojo-guksa. Janggoksa Temple is beautifully situated in the western part of Chilgapsan Provincial Park. Additionally, the temple is home to two National Treasures and four Treasures.

The first structure to greet you at Janggoksa Temple is the temple’s stately Iljumun Gate. An additional four hundred metres up the road will bring you to the temple parking lot. Staring back at you is Janggoksa Temple’s front façade with both an overhanging bell pavilion and a compact Unhak-ru Pavilion to pass under. Passing through the pavilion, and only after climbing the uneven set of stone stairs to be situated in the lower temple courtyard, will you notice National Treasure #300 housed inside the Unhak-ru Pavilion. Before exploring anything else at the temple, have a look inside the Unhak-ru Pavilion at the large Gwaebul mural that dates back to 1673. Standing over 8.6 metres in height and nearly 6 metres in width, the massive mural was painted by five monks. It was painted in hopes that King Hyeonjong (r.1659 to 1675), and his Queen, would live a long life. In total, there are six Buddhas and six Bodhisattvas painted on the mural with a commanding Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) standing in the centre. His crown has four Buddhas on it, and the mural is similar to a Vulture Peak mural.

To the front of the Unhak-ru Pavilion is the lower Daeung-jeon at Janggoksa Temple, which dates back to the mid-Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Typically, it’s Seokgamoni-bul that’s housed inside the Daeung-jeon; but at Janggoksa Temple, the lower courtyard’s main hall houses Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). This gilt-bronze statue dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). This statue is flanked on both sides by to separate paintings dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars), as well as a guardian mural on the far right wall.

To the right of the lower Daeung-jeon stands the temple’s Myeongbu-jeon Hall, which is dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Housed inside this hall is a golden-capped statue dedicated to Jijang-bosal. To the left of the lower courtyard’s main hall is the Seolseon-dang, where people can meditate.

Climbing the stairs to the upper courtyard, you’ll find three more halls at Janggoksa Temple. Shaped in an “L,” The first of the two buildings is the Upper Daeung-jeon. Uniquely, the hall has brick lotus-shaped flooring. There are three statues that sit inside this hall; of which, it’s the Yaksayoure-bul statue that sits on a stone pedestal that’s the most famous. Dating back to the late 9th century, this statue is designated National Treasure #58. Joining this statue of Yaksayore-bul are two additional statues dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) and Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). The Birojana-bul statue is believed to have been built during the Goryeo Dynasty. Strangely, all three statues are absent earlier in the morning; instead, just a cloth hat appears on the pedestal until the statues make an appearance later in the day.

The adjoining hall next to the Upper Daeung-jeon is the Eungjin-jeon. With a solitary statue of Seokgamoni-bul on the main altar, he’s surrounded by stone statues of the Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha) in the hall. It’s also from this part of the upper courtyard that you get an amazing view of the valley where Janggoksa Temple takes up residence, as well as the lower courtyard, as well.

The final hall that people can visit at the temple is the crowning Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Up a side-winding pathway, you’ll be led up to a hall that houses three masterful shaman murals. While both the Dokseong (The Lonely Spirit) and Chilseong (The Seven Stars) murals are amazing in their own rights, it’s the Santa-like mural of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) that stands above the others in its artistic execution.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Cheongyang Intercity Bus Terminal, you can catch a taxi to Janggoksa Temple. It’ll cost around 17,000 won and take about 25 minutes.

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. It’s rare for a Korean Buddhist temple to house a single National Treasure, but Janggoksa Temple houses two of them. Both the vibrantly painted Gwaebul and the stone seated iron incarnation of Yaksayore-bul add a lot to this valley hugging temple. In addition to its national identity, Janggoksa Temple also houses several other Treasures, as well as two distinctly situated courtyards.

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The bell pavilion that welcomes you to the temple grounds.

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 The view as you enter the temple’s lower courtyard.

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The Gwaebul painting at Janggoksa Temple, which also just so happens to be National Treasure #300.

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The lower Daeung-jeon at the temple.

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A look inside the lower Daeung-jeon with Birojana-bul front and centre.

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The neighbouring Myeongbu-jeon.

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A look inside reveals a golden capped Jijang-bosal.

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The long stairs that lead up towards the upper courtyard.

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The view from the upper courtyard.

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Both the upper Daeung-jeon and the Eungjin-jeon, together.

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A look inside the upper Daeung-jeon. Unfortunately, the three treasured statues were conspicuously absent.

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A look inside the Eungjin-jeon at both Seokgamoni-bul and the Nahan.

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The view across the front face of the upper Daeung-jeon.

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The trail that leads up towards the Samseong-gak.

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A better look at the Samseong-gak.

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Which houses this amazing Sanshin mural.

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 A look down towards the upper Daeung-jeon from the Samseong-gak.

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