Sudoam Hermitage – 수도암 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The main altar inside of the main hall at Sudoam Hermitage near Tongdosa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

I had once visited Sudoam Hermitage, but they were performing a ceremony, so I didn’t want to interrupt. Recently, I went back to Sudoam Hermitage with a little bit more success. I was finally able to see it. Sudoam Hermitage was the last hermitage I had yet to visit at Tongdosa Temple, and while it isn’t the most impressive, it has enough to keep the temple adventurer entertained.

When you first enter the Sudoam Hermitage (수도암) grounds up an uneven road, you’ll be greeted by a tiny pavilion for meditation. This bamboo pavilion jets out over open air, and has two chairs seated in its midst.

Past this bamboo pavilion, you’ll next be greeted by the hermitage’s facilities like the meeting centre, the kitchen, and the monks’ dorms to your left. And to your right is the hermitage’s garden, which is beautifully framed by the neighbouring mountains. It’s between these two framing set of hermitage structures that the hermitage’s shrine halls are housed.

Straight ahead, and through a pair of overgrown cedar trees, is Sudoam Hermitage’s main hall. This rather long, but narrow, main hall is beautifully adorned with floral murals. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, is a triad centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). To his right and left, atypically, is Daesaeji-bosal and Gwanseeum-bosal. And to the right of this triad of statues is a guardian mural. And to the left is a beautiful Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) mural. The entire interior ceiling of the main hall is decorated with some beautiful pink paper lotus flowers. For some reason, they seemed to be a bit more vibrant and beautiful than most other temples.

The final hall at the hermitage is to the left rear of the main hall. This hall is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. This newer looking shrine hall houses the three most popular shaman deities: Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Dokseong (The Recluse), and Chilseong (The Seven Stars). Stepping into the Samseong-gak, you’ll be greeted by some unique shaman paintings. Perhaps the most unique, and simplistic, is the Chilseong mural. It’s also from the Samseong-gak shrine hall that you get a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Sudoam Hermitage, as well as Tongdosa Temple, you can take an intercity bus from Busan, Eonyang or Ulsan. Specifically 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.  From the Tongdosa Temple grounds, keep heading up the main road for about 2 kilometres. When the road forks both straight and to the right, turn to the right. Head up the hilly road for another kilometre and Sudoam Hermitage will be on your right. Admission for adults to Tongdosa Temple is 3,000 won, while admission to Sudoam Hermitage is included with your entrance to Tongdosa Temple.

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OVERALL RATING: 5.5/10. While not the most impressive hermitage at Tongdosa Temple, Sudoam Hermitage still has a fair bit for a person to see and explore. The interior of the main hall is beautiful, as are the floral murals that adorn the exterior walls to this hall. Additionally, the view from the Samseong-gak shrine hall and the bamboo pavilion are two more highlights to this little travelled hermitage.

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The bamboo pavilion as you enter the hermitage grounds.
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The hermitage’s vegetable garden and greenhouse.
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The main hall as you approach it.
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A look across the long main hall at Sudoam Hermitage.
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The triad of statues that sits on the main altar. In the centre is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s flanked by Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).
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A closer look at Gwanseeum-bosal.
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The guardian mural to the right of the main altar.
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And to the left of the main altar is this beautiful mural of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).
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A look up at the Samseong-gak shrine hall to the left rear of the main hall at Sudoam Hermitage.
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The interesting, and centrally located, Chilseong mural inside of Samseong-gak shrine hall.
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To the left of Chilseong is this mural of San shin (The Mountain Spirit).
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And a look across the main hall from the Samseong-gak shrine hall.

2 thoughts on “Sudoam Hermitage – 수도암 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

  1. Bodhisattva statue (Gwaneum?) in front of Sanshin is a remarkable and rare phenomenon. Good modern painting, but based on a standard traditional one. I like the “framed” twin peaks behind him… And, while that is in function a Samseong-gak, note that its signboard reads “Sanshin-gak” instead — probably from a previous gak and they just moved it here rather than make a new Samseong-gak sign… Which one of the triad was in the center here — Chilseong as usual? or Sanshin? Was Sanshin on the left…?

  2. I’m guessing that it was Gwanseeum-bosal as well in front of the Sanshin painting. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen it before. I was actually most impressed with the realism of the accompanying painting that I didn’t even notice the twin peaks in the painting. As for the Samseong-gak, it was a traditional set-up with Chilseong in the centre with Sanshin to the left and Dokseong to the right.

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