Geumsansa Temple – 금산사 (Busan, Gijang)

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A massive, and hollow, Amita-bul statue that lies inside the main hall at Geumsansa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

While out in Gijang doing the Yangsan Winter English Camp, I decided to do a bit of sightseeing during the numerous three hour breaks. And one of those sightseeing tours brought me to Geumsansa Temple. While not as amazing as I was anticipating, it certainly had a few surprises.

Geumsansa Temple, in English, literally means Golden Mountain Temple. You’ll first approach Geumsansa Temple down a one lane country road that takes a few twists and turns along the way. When you finally do arrive, you’ll see a compact temple courtyard. Immediately to your left is the visitors’ centre. Continue straight, and you’ll see the very busy temple courtyard. In front of the main hall are numerous statues, including a beautiful pink stoned twin fish statue. Unfortunately, the front of the main hall is covered in an ugly Plexiglas set-up. To the right of the main hall are the monks’ dorms, the monks’ prayer hall, and the temple kitchen. To the left of the main hall is a very rustic-looking wooden fish gong pavilion with an equally rustic fish gong. The gong is half log and half fish. To the side of the wooden fish gong pavilion are two ornately designed dragon sculptures. Additionally, there are two uniquely designed turtles that you can place coins on their back that are placed below the wooden fish gong.

As for the exterior of the main hall, other than the ugly Plexiglas shelter out in front, it is largely unadorned. Now, as for the interior of the main hall, I’m not too sure how to explain it. To say that the interior was a surprise is a gross understatement. When you first step inside the main hall, there’s a massive Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) statue laying on his side. This massive Amita-bul statue takes up nearly the entire interior of the main hall. In front of Amita-bul are various Nahan (the disciples of the Historical Buddha) statues, as well as a large sized white-clad Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) laying on her side, as well. At the feet of Amita-bul are a set of wooden stairs that lead up inside the lying statue. Inside Amita-bul are various wooden sculptures and golden statues. At the entrance are the four Cheonwang guardians. On the left wall are various seated statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, while on the right are wooden carved murals depicting various religious figures and scenes. And straight ahead are a triad of standing Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, which is centred by Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Light).

Out the back exit, near the head of the massive Amita-bul statue, you’ll be surrounded by walls of various Buddha and Bodhisattva statues that people can pay a fee of a million won to have their names attached to a statue to be prayed over by the temple’s monks. Surprisingly, this is more than it costs at the famous Beopjusa Temple.

After exiting out of the main hall, you can follow the sign next to the bell pavilion that leads you towards the Samseong-gak shrine hall. A forested path that leads through a bamboo grove leads you to the other side of the walled off temple compound. On the right side of the temple compound only the Samseong-gak shrine hall sits. The exterior of the hall is decorated with a painting of Dokseong (The Recluse) on the right side and a painting of San shin (The Mountain Spirit) to the left. Inside, once more, are the various Nahan statues. These statues sit below the three paintings of the shaman deities. Uniquely, there’s a painting of San shin in the centre, with a painting of Dokseong to the left, and Yongwang (The Dragon King) to the right. Absent is a painting of Chilseong that usually makes up the triad of deities inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall. All three paintings, while simplistic, are beautifully rendered, especially the painting of Yongwang.

HOW TO GET THERE: The least complicated way to get to Geumsansa Temple is to first go to Jangansa Temple by taking a city bus. This temple is rather difficult to get to by public transportation, but if you take City Bus #181 at Centum City Subway Station, Haeundae Subway Station, or Bexco, you’ll be able to catch a connecting bus to Jangansa Temple. From City Bus #181, get off at Gijang Sijang Station. From here, board the Town Bus #9 called the Maeul Bus. This bus will drop you off on your first leg of your journey: Jangansa Temple. From Jangansa Temple you can either walk the 6 km distance between the temples (which I don’t recommend) or you can catch a taxi that will cost you about 5,000 won to Geumsansa Temple from Jangansa Temple.

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OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. The highlight of this temple, by far, is the massively laying Amita-bul statue inside the main hall at Geumsansa Temple. And while the exterior is inspiring, the interior is awe-inspiring. Other than this massive golden statue, the other highlights of the temple are the wooden fish gong, the bamboo grove, as well as the Nahan statues inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall and the painting of Yongwang. If you’re visiting the neighbouring, and much larger, Jangansa Temple, Geumsansa Temple makes a nice little addition to your temple adventures.

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The entrance that leads up to Geumsansa Temple.
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The not so outwardly attractive main hall that has numerous stone statues in front of the Plexiglass shelter.
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The twin fish statue in front of the main hall.
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A look inside the wooden fish gong pavilion at Geumsansa Temple.
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And a better look at the highly original wooden fish gong inside the bell pavilion.
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Finally, a look at the lying Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) inside the main hall. In front are the 16 beautifully rendered Nahan (Disciples of the Historical Buddha) statues.
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A better look at the face of Amita-bul.
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And below the belly of Amita-bul is Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).
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A look inside the Amita-bul statue. It truly is amazingly adorned.
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A look at just one of the cartoonish looking Cheonwang (Heavenly Kings) that stands at the entrance of the lying Amita-bul statue.
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At the end of the inner hall is a triad of statues with Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Light) in the middle.
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The golden interior behind Amita-bul. There are literally hundreds of Buddhist statues with Korean names attached to them.
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The stairs that lead to a trail that skirts the outside of the temple grounds.
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A look at the main hall from the temple’s woods.
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Probably my favourite picture from the set. This one is the path that leads through a bamboo forest and onto the Samseong-gak shrine hall.
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A look at the exterior of the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.
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A look upon the altar inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall at Geumsansa Temple.
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Just one of the smiling Nahan that surround the main altar.
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The Lonely Saint, Dokseong (The Recluse).
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And a look at Yongwang (The Dragon King) that also rests on the main altar inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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