Hyuhyuam Hermitage – 휴휴암 (Yangyang, Gangwon-do)

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The Stone Shrine Dedicated to Yongwang and Gwanseeum-bosal at Hyuhyuam Hermitage in Yangyang, Gangwon-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

While in Yangyang, Gangwon-do, my mother-in-law suggested we visit Hyuhyuam Hermitage. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go after already visiting 5 temples that very same day; however, I was really happy that I ended up visiting this coastal hermitage.

You first approach the hermitage from a compact temple parking lot that always seems to be busy. A short distance away is the Iljumun Gate with stone boars at its base. Passing through this entry gate, you’ll be standing in the compact hermitage courtyard. If you go at the right time, you’ll be greeted by a friendly nun with a bird that talks (definitely a first for me!).

Straight ahead lays the Wontong-jeon main hall. The exterior walls are decorated with playful murals of youthful monks. As for the interior, and standing all alone on the main altar, is the most beautiful artistic manifestation of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) that I’ve personally seen at a Korean temple. The multi-armed and headed Bodhisattva is backed by a fiery nimbus and a masterful relief and canopy. To the right and left of the main altar are paintings of an angelic Gwanseeum-bosal and people finding solace at the hermitage’s waters.

To the right of the main hall is a cave like grotto that houses a collection of sari (crystallized remains), purportedly, from the Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul. There is both an inner and outer chamber to this grotto. The outside canvased surface to the grotto is covered in masterful paintings of guardians and Bodhisattvas. As for the inner, and resting on the main altar, is a glass vessel that contains a dozen sari under a colourful canopy.

As you make your way down from the upper courtyard to the lower, you’ll pass by the monks’ dorms, a visitors’ centre, and administration offices. A little further along, and you’ll next come to another hall dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal. This Gwaneeum-jeon houses yet another masterful rendering of a standing Gwanseeum-bosal. With willow spray in hand and a blue dragon at her feet, this Gwanseeum-bosal is yet another amazing feat in Buddhist artistry. To the right of the main altar is an amazing relief and statue of Yongwang (The Dragon King); while to the left rests a guardian relief.

Having made your way past this shrine hall, the ocean will finally come into view. Straight ahead is the temple’s bell pavilion with a rather uniquely painted golden bell inside. It’s to the right of the bell pavilion that you’ll see a large stone shrine dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal. While not as refined as the statue at the neighbouring Naksansa Temple, this one is both beautiful and large in its own right. Standing at either side of the Bodhisattva of Compassion is an attendant and the largest statue of Yongwang I have seen. Intricately carved around the base of all the statues are amazing, and I mean amazing, aquatic engravings of marine life. Also, there’s a mermaid wishing well.

There’s a way down to the ocean from this area. You can enjoy both the beautiful ocean side views and a shrine dedicated to Yongwang.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Yangyang Intercity Bus Terminal, you need to board the Jigyeong-ri bus. You’ll need to take it for 26 stops and then get off at the Gwangjin-ri bus stop. From there, you’ll then have to walk 4 more minutes to Hyuhyuam Hermitage.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10. What isn’t to love about this little known, but uniquely populated, hermitage by the sea? From the nun with a bird that speaks, to the stone grotto with the Buddha’s remains, the hermitage uniquely has it all. And when you couple it with the most beautiful statues of Gwanseeum-bosal in all of Korea, as well as the maritime statues of Yongwang and Gwanseeum-bosal, and you’ll need to add this little known hermitage to your list of things to see the next time you’re in the Gangwon-do area.

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The Iljumun Gate that greets you at the hermitage entry.

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A look inside the main hall at the splendour of Gwanseeum-bosal.

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Some of the accompanying main hall artwork of Gwanseeum-bosal.

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A look inside the cave grotto.

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The Agwi artwork that adorns the grotto’s outer chamber.

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As well as an image of Gwanseeum-bosal.

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A look towards the inner chamber’s main altar.

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A look at the glass vessel that houses a dozen of the Buddha’s sari.

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The ocean side view and the Gwaneeum-jeon beside it.

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The amazing main altar inside the Gwaneeum-jeon.

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With Yongwang to the side.

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A look back towards the temple grounds.

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And a look towards the bell pavilion and Gwanseeum-bosal shrine.

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The golden temple bell and fish gong.

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A stone frog that looks like it might have jumped straight out of an animation.

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The beautiful ocean view.

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The Gwanseeum-bosal shrine.

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The mermaid wishing well that joins them.

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A Yongwang relief.

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A whale relief that is etched at the base of the shrine.

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Yet another amazing maritime relief.

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And finally, at the base of the much larger statue, is an ornately etched Gwanseeum-bosal relief.

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