Springtime at Oeosa Temple in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do.
Hello Again Everyone!!
I had long wanted to visit Oeosa Temple ever since I got my very first tour guide book about Korea back in 2003. And while it took me ten years to get there, it certainly didn’t disappoint with its natural beauty.
Oeosa Temple was first established during the Silla Period under King Jinpyeong’s reign (579 A.D. to 632 A.D.). In its very first incarnation it was called Hangsasa Temple. The temple gained its present name from a very interesting story that involves the monks Hyegong and Wonhyo. One day, while attempting to revive two fish that were swimming in the neighbouring lake, one of the two came back to life. Both claimed that they were the one to revive the fish, so from that day forward the temple came to be known as Oeosa Temple: My Fish Temple.
You first approach Oeosa Temple up a long winding road that’s surrounded by close lying mountains and an artificial pond. On your way, you’ll be joined by local mountain hikers that enjoy the low lying mountains and the picturesque landscape just south of Pohang.
Immediately when you enter the temple grounds, and just past the overcrowded parking lot, you’ll be greeted by the rather openly designed bell pavilion. There’s a large Brahma bell that sits in the centre of the pavilion, and it’s adorned with beautiful Biseon. In addition to this beautiful bronze bell, you’ll see a rather uniquely, and gnarly, designed wooden fish gong.
To the immediate right of the bell pavilion is the temple’s fountain that has a baby stone monk at the head of the fountain. Rather cutely, this stone monk is clothed with a scarf and toque. And to the right of this rather cute fountain and statue is the temple’s Nahan-jeon. Up the stairs, and a peek inside this hall, will reveal a golden collection of Nahan statues that are centred by a large triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha).
Next to the Nahan-jeon is the simplistic Samseong-gak with beautiful landscape paintings around its exterior walls. Inside, and sitting in the centre on the main altar, is a rather long painting dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). To the right is a simplistic painting of Dokseong (The Recluse), and to the left is a stunning painting of Yongwang (The Dragon King). And if you look close enough at this painting, you’ll actually see the bubbled golden skin of the dragon in the Yongwang painting. Keeping this hall company, and slightly to the left and under a beautiful cherry blossom tree, is the Sanshin-gak. The simplistic painting houses a ferocious tiger.
Uniquely, or strangely, depending on how you want to view it, the main hall at Oeosa Temple sits in the centre of the temple courtyard and not at the back of the grounds. To the left sit the monks’ dorms, visitors’ centre, and temple kitchen. As for the main hall itself, it dates back to 1741, and it’s surrounded on all sides by Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals.
After looking at the main hall head-on, you can walk your way out the temple gates and past the two fierce looking guardians that adorn the temple gate doors. Down the stairs, and you’ll come to the beautiful river that flows out in front of the tranquil temple. The sandy beach front and the neighbouring rocking bridge that allows hikers up into the trails that surround the temple only add to the atmosphere of the temple.
Before you leave, make sure you visit the temple’s museum, which is free, because it houses the purported hat of Wonhyo-daesa, as well as a bronze bell that dates back to 1216.
HOW TO GET THERE: From Busan, you’ll first have to get to the Busan Intercity Bus Terminal at the Nopo Subway Stop, #134. You can catch a bus to Pohang Intercity Bus Terminal. The trip takes about an hour and twenty minutes, it leaves every ten to fifteen minutes, and it costs 7,700 won. From the Pohang Intercity Terminal, you’ll then have to make your way over to the Ocheon Transfer Station. To get there, you can either take bus #175 for about 30 minutes to the transfer, or you can take a taxi for 17 minutes, and it’ll cost you about 9,000 won. From the Ocheon Transfer Station, you’ll then have to board the bus that says, Ocheonjiseon (Oeosa), 오천지선 (오어사). The ride lasts about 20 minutes, or 11 stops. From where the bus lets you off, you’ll have to walk the remaining kilometre to Oeosa Temple.
OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. Oeosa Temple is one of the most beautifully situated temples in all of Korea with the meandering river that flows out in front of its grounds as well as the towering mountains that hover over it like a guardian angel at every angle. Add into the mix the ancient bronze bell, the historic main hall, and the beautiful artistry in and around all the temple halls, and you’ll know why Oeosa Temple makes for such a nice weekend getaway.
The beautiful artificial lake just outside the temple grounds.
The mountains and lake that surround Oeosa Temple.
The beautiful hanging bridge that allows visitors to cross the artificial lake.
The back entrance to the temple grounds.
The dry water fountain with a stone monk statue with a toque on its head.
The bell pavilion at Oeosa Temple.
The Nahan-jeon Hall with beautiful golden statues inside.
A look at the main hall from the Nahan-jeon.
A good look at the Samseong-gak and the Sanshin-gak behind it, as well as spring in full bloom.
The painting of Chilseong (The Seven Stars) inside the Samseong-gak.
A look at Yongwang (The Dragon King).
And a look at the ferocious tiger that joins Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).
The beautiful view of the main hall from the Sanshin-gak.
A better look at the main hall front and centre.
Just one of the beautiful Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals that adorns the exterior walls of the main hall.
A monk saying morning prayers inside the main hall.
The purported hat of Wonhyo-daesa inside the temple’s museum.
A look at the small bronze bell that dates back to 1216 inside Oeosa Temple’s museum.
The temple gates at Oeosa Temple.
A look up at the well manicured grounds at Oeosa Temple.
A view from the water’s edge.