Gyemyeongam Hermitage – 계명암 (Busan)

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The beautiful view of Beomeosa Temple from Gyeomyeongam Hermitage in Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Continuing on our tour of the temples that are to the right of Beomeosa Temple in Busan, my wife and I decided to go to Gyemyeongam Hermitage (계명암). It’s a hermitage that I’ve long admired from afar. You can actually see the hermitage during the fall, winter, or spring, from the Beomeosa Temple complex. Facing Busan, and looking left towards the neighbouring mountain, you can see the hermitage pretty much anywhere from  Beomeosa Temple.

Gyemyeongam Hermitage, in English, means Rooster’s Crow Hermitage; and strangely enough, as my wife and I were walking up the mountain, we actually heard rooster’s crowing at the base.

To get to the scenic hermitage, you first have to climb a 500 metre long trail up the side of a mountain. At times, this trail can be a bit steep, so make sure you pack proper footwear. As you first approach the hermitage, perhaps out of breath from the climb, you’ll notice a beautifully compact Iljumun Gate. Passing through this weathered gate, you’ll start to see some of the panoramic views of Geumjeongsan Mountain, as well as the valley below, through the trees. Continuing to walk down the temple trail, you’ll come to the hermitage’s courtyard. To the left is the monk’s dorms and study hall.  Beside that is a strangely built main hall.  Well, I should qualify that. The main hall is actually beautiful, what is strange is that there’s been an extension added on to the main hall for the numerous visitors that come to the hermitage everyday. This extension isn’t beautiful at all. It almost seems haphazard the way that it was slapped onto the side of the main hall. Inside the main hall, there’s a statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) as the main altar piece. Uniquely, there are four paintings inside the main hall depicting various actions of Gwanseeum-bosal. To the left of the main hall is a compact shrine dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal with stone scrolls with Korean writing on them.  Further to the left, and a bit up the mountain, is a rock outcropping that you can reflexively sit upon, while viewing the valley and Busan down below. To the right of the main hall is a beautiful little shrine dedicated to what looks to be Chilseong. Strangely, on the exterior walls of the hermitage buildings, there is only Korean writing.  There are no murals or large paintings adorning any of the walls.  However, inside the shrine hall, on the left wall, is an unbelievably realistic painting of a white tiger.

But the main reason you’ve probably made your way up the side-windingly steep mountain is to see the views down below. And trust me; the beautifully views of Beomeosa Temple alone are worth the climb. But when you add into the mix the beautiful views of Busan (on a clear day), the other hermitages and small farms in the valley down below, as well as the towering Geumjeongsan mountain range that surrounds you at every turn, and you’ll understand why Gyemyeongam Hermitage is well worth the effort to get to!

HOW TO GET THERE: You can get to Gyemyeongam Hermitage in one of two ways. In both scenarios you first have to take the Busan subway, line one, to Beomeosa station and take exit #1. Here, you can either walk up the thirty minute hike to Beomeosa Temple, or you can walk a block uphill to the bus stop where you can take bus #90 to the nearby entrance of Beomeosa Temple. Instead of walking left towards the Iljumun Gate, continue to hang right towards the hermitage. You’ll pass by Beomeosa Temple, which will be to your left. There will be a sign halfway between the temple and the hermitage, which will read 계명암,continue to follow these signs as they lead you right of the main temple. Eventually, you’ll come to a small parking lot. The path will fork like a “W.” trail to the right is Gyemyeongam Hermitage. There’s a large metal sign, as well as a signpost, pointing you in the direction of the trail that leads you up to the hermitage.

Admission to the hermitage is free.

View 계명암 in a larger map

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. For the panoramic views alone of Beomeosa Temple in the valley below, and the giant Geumjeongsan Mountains above, this hermitage rates as highly as it does. But when you add in the beautiful shrine hall to the right of the main hall, you’ll know why the hermitage rates as high as it does. The one draw back to the hermitage is the slapped together main hall extension. However, inside this building, as you collect your breath, it’s a peaceful atmosphere. So if you have the time, and the strength, I would recommend you seeing this hermitage if you’re already visiting Beomeosa Temple.

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The sign that leads you up to 계명암 (Gyemyeongam Hermitage). It’s located in the parking lot.
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The start of the long climb up to the hermitage.
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The side-winding 500 metre path that leads up to Gyemyeongam Hermitage.
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Finally, we’re at the top, with a view of Iljumun Gate in the distance.
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The first gorgeous view of Geumjeongsan Mountain from the hermitage.
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A look at the makeshift addition to the main hall.  A bit haphazard on the outside if you ask me.
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The beautiful Gwanseeum-bosal shrine to the left of the main hall. If you look close enough you can see the unique twin statues with Korean writing on them.
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As you look behind the main hall, you can see just how closely it’s set into nature.
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A view inside the main hall with a smaller sized Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) as the main altar piece at the hermitage.
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Two beautiful Gwanseeum-bosal paintings to the right of the Gwanseeum-bosal statue.
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A look at the shrine hall dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars), with a older looking pagoda in the foreground.
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The main altar piece is a statue of Chilseong (The Seven Stars) with a pink bowl of medicine in his left hand.
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On the far left wall inside the shrine hall is this beautifully realistic painting of a white tiger.
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A look through the shrine hall door at the towering mountains that surround Gyemyeongam Hermitage.
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A look up at the mountains and trees that surround the hermitage at every turn.
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And the highlight to this hermitage is definitely the view of the city and valley below.
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Down in the valley you can see both Beomeosa Temple and the associated hermitage to the left of the temple.
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A unique look at Beomeosa Temple.
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And finally, the long path that leads down to the base of the mountain.

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