Hello Again Everyone!!
I had wanted to visit a few of the hermitages in the Naewon valley, but getting lost, and travelling additional mountainside kilometers, and that dream quickly faded. Instead, I first visited Anjeogam Hermitage, followed by Jogyeam Hermitage, which is to the rear of Anjeogam Hermitage.
You’ll approach Jogyeam Hermitage (조계암) down a country road, and next to a dirt field, to the rear of Anjeogam Hermitage. Jogyeam Hermitage is only 300 metres down this road that gradually inclines up the side of a mountain.
The first glimpse of the hermitage you’ll get is of the hermitage parking lot, and the visitor’s centre, which is slightly up the embankment with the rest of the hermitage buildings. Once squared to the upper courtyard stairs, you’ll climb this set to enter into the hermitage’s courtyard. Amazingly, especially for how secluded it is, Jogyeam Hermitage has a lot for the temple adventurer to see.
In front of the large main hall with a veranda, is the nine-tier pagoda that is simplistic in design. There are four large protective lions on each directional side of the base of the pagoda. Other than these lions, the pagoda is reminiscent of a pagoda from the Silla Dynasty. Behind the pagoda is the beautifully designed and decorated main hall. The exterior of the main hall is decorated with two sets of murals. On the upper tier are beautiful renderings of the Palsang-do paintings of the Buddha’s life. On the lower tier are various paintings that are significant to Korean Buddhism like the Wonhyo and Uisang mural, as well as the Dazu Huike and Bodhidharma mural. All the paintings are amazingly realistic in their composition. Inside, the main hall has a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). To his right is a statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). And hanging on the left wall is the guardian painting.
Behind the main hall is a nicely designed Samseong-gak shrine hall dedicated to the three most popular shaman deities in Korea: Chilseong (The Seven Stars), Dokseong (The Recluse), and San shin (The Mountain god). While these paintings aren’t anything that will blow your mind, they are well executed. On the exterior walls of this hall is a fiercely painted orange tiger symbolic of San shin. To the right of the main hall is a smaller sized shrine hall that was under renovation when I visited. So I’m not exactly sure who it’s dedicated to. And to the left is a beautiful water fountain that I replenished the supply of water at after the first 7 kilometres of my hike were complete.
Admission to the hermitage itself is free; however, you’ll have to pay an admission fee at the park entry of 3,000 won.
HOW TO GET THERE: While Nojeonam Hermitage is a bit of an adventure to get to, Jogyeam Hermitage is even more difficult to find. From Yangsan, you can catch bus #12-1 from Yangsan bus terminal. This bus leaves every hour. From the bus terminal, you’ll ride the bus about 20 to 30 minutes in front of the Naewonsa Temple entrance. Once here, you’ll have to walk an additional 30 minutes to the ticket booth. You can either walk the 30 minutes or take a taxi. Once you’re at the Naewonsa Temple ticket booth, instead of heading right towards Naewonsa Temple, you’ll have to head left and walk through a parking lot. Once you’re at the far end of the parking lot, and next to a washroom facility, you’ll see a green barrier fence in front of a dirt road. There’s an entrance to the right. You should head down this dirt trail for 2 kilometres until you arrive at Nojeonam Hermitage. Once you get to Nojeonam Hermitage, hang a right at the bridge. You’ll follow this trail for another 2 kilometres beside a cascading stream. Eventually, you’ll get to a map marker where the trails split in a couple of directions. You want to take the one that goes up the hill and that lies directly in front of the map. Head up this trail for another kilometer until you arrive at Anjeogam Hermitage. To the left, and for 300 metres, you’ll finally arrive at Jogyeam Hermitage.
OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. While just as beautifully situated as Anjeogam Hermitage, the hermitage buildings at Jogyeam Hermitage are just a little bit more beautiful. With the beautiful exterior paintings on the main hall, the simplistic lion pagoda, as well as the compact Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall, this hermitage rates slightly higher than the neighbouring one.