The view of Busan and the Nakdong River from the wooden pavilion at Unsusa Temple in Busan.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Wanting to fill out the major temples I had yet to visit in Busan during my winter vacation, I decided to wake up early and brave the cold winter wind to visit Unsusa Temple on the southern slopes of Mt. Baekyangsan.
Just before the Baekyangsan Tunnel entrance, and up a steep winding mountainside road, you arrive at the uniquely designed grounds of Unsusa Temple. Immediately, you’ll be welcomed by the new Daeung-jeon main hall that rests on the heights as you enter the temple parking lot. To the right, and up a set of stairs, you’ll be able to get a better look at the large sized main hall. In front of this new main hall is a natural wood pavilion that is off-limits to visitors. It’s also from this vantage point that you get a beautiful view of Busan and the Nakdong River down below. And in combination with the pavilion, you can get some truly stunning pictures.
Surrounding the newer main hall are a beautiful set of Palsang-do murals. As for the interior of this rather spacious main hall, there are a set of five large statues that sit on the main altar. In the centre sits Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s flanked to his immediate right by Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha) and to his left by Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). Book-ending these three, and to the far left, is Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the far right. All five are situated under five large red canopies that are intricately designed and painted. On the far left wall, and next to Jijang-bosal, is a large sized guardian mural with well over a hundred figures in it. And on the far right wall is a beautiful painting of Jijang-bosal just outside the gates of a fiery underworld.
What’s unique about this temple is that there are actually two main halls. There’s the new one, which I’ve just described, as well as the older one that dates back to at least 1770 in the lower courtyard. From the parking lot, and if you continue to hang a right instead of ascending the stairs that lead up to the newer main hall, you’ll enter into the lower temple courtyard.
As you enter the lower temple courtyard, you’ll enter to the left of the older main hall. To the right are two temple structures that act as the monks’ dorms, visitors centre, and kitchen. Standing all alone in the courtyard is a slender five tier pagoda. Behind it is the old main hall that is newly under renovation. There are some decorative paintings that adorn the exterior walls to this hall. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, sits a statue of Amita-bul. He’s joined by Gwanseeum-bosal and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). And hanging on the far left wall is a unique guardian mural.
To the left rear of the older main hall is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. The exterior is adorned with Shinseon murals, while the interior is dimly lit. Hanging in the centre of the main altar is an intricately painted Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural. To his left Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) that sits beside a ferocious tiger and under a cherry blossom tree in his painting. And finally, and to the right, is an equally intricate painting of Dokseong (The Recluse).
The final hall at Unsusa Temple, and to the right rear of the older main hall, is the Yongwang-dang. The exterior is only painted in the traditional dancheong colours, while the interior is filled with the wooden fish gong, as well as a beautiful mural of Yongwang (The Dragon King).
HOW TO GET THERE: You can get to Unsusa Temple along the Busan subway system. You’ll have to get off at Mora subway station, #230, on the second line. Then, you’ll have to take a taxi to Unsusa Temple. The drive should only take you about ten minutes and is a mere three kilometres in length. The entire taxi ride should be about 4,000 won.
OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. Unsusa Temple is a rather unique temple in that it houses two main halls. And both main halls, in their own right, are beautifully designed and decorated. Add into the mix the scenic views of both Busan and the Nakdong River, as well as the beautiful shaman deity paintings, and the little known Unsusa Temple quickly becomes a temple you should see if you’re in Busan.
The wooden pavilion and the new main hall that first greet you to the temple.
As you ascend the stairs to the upper courtyard, you’re first greeted to the left by the wooden pavilion and the stunning view.
The large new main hall.
The view from the main hall out on to the wooden pavilion and through to Busan.
The final painting in the Palsang-do set that adorns the new main hall.
The large and lavish interior to the new main hall.
A closer look at Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise), who resides on the main altar.
The massive guardian mural to the left of the main altar.
A look up at the regal Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).
The painting of Jijang-bosal that’s inside the main hall.
The temple’s lower courtyard with the historic main hall in the centre.
The main altar inside the older Daeung-jeon Hall with Amita-bul in the centre.
The unique guardian mural, the Shinjung Taenghwa, inside the historic main hall.
The mural inside the Yongwang-dang of Yongwang (The Dragon King).
The painting of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). It was hard to get a good picture because of the darkness inside the hall and the glass over the mural.
One last look from the old main hall to the new one with a billow of smoke indicating just how cold it was.