Anyangam Hermitage – 안양암 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

Picture 663The foggy view from Anyangam Hermitage.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Yesterday, we weren’t planning on much after visiting Sinheungsa Temple besides visiting the in-laws. However, the visit to the in-laws quickly turned into a whirlwind temple tour.  In all, after Sinheungsa Temple, we visited three more temples and hermitages. After visiting Tongdosa Temple, we visited another smaller hermitage called Anyangam Hermitage (안양암). It’s on the Tongdosa Temple grounds, like so many other temples and hermitages in the area. I hadn’t been to Anyangam Hermitage in about seven years, and had wanted to go for some time.  So when my mother-in-law insisted we go, we went.

Anyangam Hermitage was built in 1295 by the Venerable Monk Chanin.  Like the stream beside Jajangam Hermitage, the view from Anyangam Hermitage has been designated one of the eight best scenic sights at Tongdosa Temple.

Anyangam Hermitage is an average sized hermitage for the hermitages associated with Tongdosa Temple. As you approach the hermitage, you walk down a nice mountain-side trail. The views below are amazing, as you stare down into the valley below Chiseosan Mountain. Be careful when walking, because one wrong move and you’re headed down the side of the mountain and a couple hundred metres below. Continuing along the path, you’ll be able to see the tops of the hermitage buildings just over the knoll. To the left is a gathering of rocks with various small Buddhist statues adorning it. There are even more great views of the valley below from this vantage point.  A fog was rolling in over the mountains when we were there, and it was pretty amazing. After you’ve had your fill of photo opportunities from this vantage point, head right, and towards the temple grounds. Uniquely, the hermitage is situated in a bit of a sink-hole. The mountain envelopes the hermitage, and the hermitage is nestled into a seeming hole. Down a row of stairs, you’ll have to step down to get to the hermitage. As you climb down these stairs, you’ll pass by the shrine hall dedicated to San Shin (the Mountain God). The hermitage is compactly situated, with a shrine hall to your immediate left, the monk dorms directly in front of you, and the larger sized main hall to your right. The main hall is dark and cavernous inside with a solitary Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) stoically and solitarily sitting at the altar of the main hall. To have a solitary Buddha figure on the altar of the main hall is an extremely unique feature to a temple or a hermitage. There were a couple interesting paintings adorning the inside of the main hall, but the more amazing paintings lay on the exterior of the hall walls. The paintings depicting the life of the Buddha as well as the ox-herding murals were cartoonish. Also, there were a couple other paintings on the far side of the main hall wall that were unique to the hermitage, like cranes flying with a floating feminine figure in between them. Equally interesting, and beautiful, are the wooden flowers adorning the front doors to the main hall.  They are both colourful and vibrant.

HOW TO GET THERE:  Just like all the other hermitages associated with Tongdosa Temple, you’ll have to first take a bus to Tongdosa Temple. To get to Tongdosa from the Gyeongsangnam-do area, you can take an intercity bus from Busan, Eonyang or Ulsan. And from Busan, you can take a bus or subway to Nopo-dong intercity bus terminal. There, you can get a ticket for Tongdosa temple. It leaves every 20 minutes.  Once you arrive in Yangsan, and facing the very small bus terminal, you should walk left and then turn right at the first corner.  The temple entrance is past the numerous restaurants and shops.  Walk up a 1.5 km path, sprinkled with ancient graffiti, and you will eventually arrive at the outskirts of the temple grounds.  Once you get to the parking lot for Tongdosa Temple, keep walking up the road for cars to the left.  Follow this road for about a kilometre.  Instead of continuing to head straight, like Seounam Hermitage, you’ll hang a right. Heading uphill, you’ll first pass by Sudoam Hermitage. Anyangam Hermitage is just another 500 metres up the road.

Again, you’ll have to pay the 3,000 won entrance fee at the Tongdosa Temple entrance gate, but Anyangam Hermitage, itself, is free of charge.

View 안양암 in a larger map

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. Just for the views alone of the Chiseosan Mountain range above, and the valley below, this hermitage rates as highly as it does. And while the hermitage itself is rather small and compact, the paintings inside and outside of the main hall add to the depth of this hermitage’s overall score. Furthermore, the uniqueness of having a solitary Seokgamoni-bul on the altar of the main hall only adds to the uniqueness of this beautiful hermitage. If you have the time and energy, add this to the list of things to see while visiting Tongdosa Temple.

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The stone sign that directs you towards Anyangam Hermitage.
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The pebbled path that leads you towards the hermitage.
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Over the rocky knoll is a first look at Anyangam Hermitage.
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And a great view down into the Chiseosan Mountain range and the valley down below.
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Another lookout over the valley below. On top of the large rocks some people have left Buddhist statues and souvenirs.
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A row of baby monks keeping each other company with their backs to the valley and mountains.
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A look up at the shrine hall dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain god).
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A look at the hermitage grounds as you descend down the stairs.
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A better look at one of the prayer halls at the hermitage.
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And the beautiful bell that hangs from its rooftop.
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A look at another prayer hall and the main hall at Anyangam Hermitage.
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A guardian painting inside the main hall.
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The solitary Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) all by his lonesome on the altar in the main hall.
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A statue of Jijang Bosal (The Boddhisattva of the Afterlife) with mural at her back.
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A painting with personality.
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Outside the main hall are these beautiful paintings. These cartoonish paintings of the Buddha’s life are second-to-none.
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Ladies trying to seduce the Buddha. If you look closely at the mirror that the Buddha is holding, you’ll see a demons face, instead of the faces of the beautiful women seductively staring at him.
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A painting filled with meaning. It’s just a meaning I don’t understand!
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One of the more beautiful paintings of a Biseon that I’ve seen adorning the exterior of a main hall.
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As are these ornamental flowers that adorn the front doors of the main hall.

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