Updated: Gwaneumsa Temple – 관음사 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

The all-new Samseong-gak at Gwaneumsa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

I thought I would return to the lowest rated temple on the site after I had recently seen pictures online that showed some new landscaping and repairs. With that in mind, I give to you, once more, Gwaneumsa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Gwaneumsa Temple is located behind row upon row of apartments on the north-east side of Mt. Obongsan (533m). Down a mountainside back alley, you’ll see a new stone sign that reads “관음사” that welcomes you to the temple. To the left side is the temple’s monks’ facilities and dorms. Up a steep cemented incline that leads past terraced vegetable gardens and a beautiful stone lantern, you’ll finally come to a newly built stone stairway. At the base of the stone stairs that lead up to the main hall are a pair of stone frog statues.

Climbing the numerous stairs, you’ll finally arrive at the temple’s main hall. The boxy main hall has beautiful large Palsang-do murals dedicated to the life of the Historical Buddha, as well as some twisting blue and yellow dragons near the entrances. Stepping inside the rather plainly adorned interior, you’ll notice a triad of statues resting on the main altar. In the centre of the three is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). To the right of the main altar is a blue Shinjung Taenghwa (guardian mural). Look closely for Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) with his trusty tiger on his shoulder.

While one of the big changes to the temple is the landscaping, the other big change is the all new Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall to the left rear of the main hall. The exterior walls are made from brick; and regrettably, the old exterior painting of a male and female Sanshin is gone (see below). However, somewhat making up for this loss, as you step inside the Samseong-gak, is a large three-in-one mural dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), Chilseong (Seven Stars), and Sanshin. Take a close look at the beautiful starry background to the Chilseong mural, as well as the mountainous background in the Dokseong and Sanshin parts of the mural. And to the rear of the Samseong-gak is a beautiful mature bamboo forest.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Gwaneumsa Temple, you can get off at Namyangsan subway station, line two, subway stop #242. After exiting from the subway station, head west for about 30 minutes. You’ll pass by a Dunkin’ Donuts at the 5 minute point, but keep heading west. You’ll then meet a steep hill with a Paris Baguette at its base at the 10 minute mark: keep heading west. Once you’re at the top of the hill, at the 20 minute mark, you’ll notice a Buddhist statue to the left. You have to turn right, where the apartments end, and head up another steep hill. Once you’re at the top of this hill you’ll notice a sign pointing you towards the temple.

NOTE: Not sure why the temple is referred to as Bogguam Hermitage on Google, but it is most definitely Gwaneumsa Temple.

OVERALL RATING: 3/10. With the new landscaping and the all new three-in-one shaman mural, Gwaneumsa Temple is lifted out of the basement on the site. Also, have a good look at the Shinjung Taenghwa with a smiling Sanshin and tiger.

The Gwaneumsa Temple sign that first greets you at the temple.

A look at the newly landscaped Gwaneumsa Temple.

The newly constructed stone stairs that lead up towards the temple’s main hall.

The main hall at Gwaneumsa Temple.

Some of the beautiful artwork in and around the main hall.

As well one as one of the beautiful blue dragons that adorns the exterior of the main hall.

The main altar inside the main hall.

A closer look at Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).

As well as a closer look at Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).

The Shinjung Taenghwa to the right of the main altar.

A look up towards the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

The highly unique three-in-one shaman mural inside the Samseong-gak.

A closer look at the Chilseong mural.

The mature bamboo forest to the rear of the Samseong-gak.

And a look from the main hall towards the row upon row of apartments.

The old Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall taken in 2011.

A closer look at the male and female Sanshin mural that used to adorn the exterior wall of the Samseong-gak. Unfortunately, it no longer exists.

Gwaneumsa Temple – 관음사 (Jeju City, Jeju-do)

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 The Buddha on the Hillside at Gwaneumsa Temple in Jeju-do Island.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Gwaneumsa Temple is named after Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). This fairly common temple name in Korea is located on the northeast side of Mt. Hallsan. It’s believed that the temple dates back to sometime during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). However, there is very little proof that indicates the exact year of Gwaneumsa Temple’s construction. During the early 1700’s, when the Joseon royal court proclaimed Confucianism as the state religion, Buddhism suffered horribly from this policy decision. In fact, Gwaneumsa Temple was completely destroyed during this time in Korea’s history. However, in 1912, the temple was rebuilt by the Buddhist nun, Anbongryeokwan. It was later renovated and expanded in 1964.

You’re first greeted to the temple by a wide Iljumun Gate with a copper-coloured roof. Just beyond this is the pathway that leads up to the temple. The pathway is lined by numerous stone statues dedicated to Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha), as well as towering cedar trees. It’s perhaps one of the most picturesque entryways to a temple in Korea. Slightly to the right, and just past the cedar trees, is a large statue dedicated to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). This large statue is surrounded by descriptive statues of various life-sized statues of guardians.

A little further up the trail, and you’ll see the Cheonwangmun Gate that houses murals dedicated to the Four Heavenly Kings. There are some more Mireuk-bul statues, this time housed atop stone spires, as well as a cave where monks once meditated inside it. Now, it’s a shrine for prayer.Before you enter the temple’s courtyard, you’ll see a beautiful koi pond with a brick pagoda in the centre of it. The Temple Stay building is slightly to the right as is the gift shop.

Finally, you’ll enter into the temple courtyard with the main hall, the Daeung-jeon, straight ahead. With its beautiful copper-colour roof, and paper lanterns out in front, it makes for quite the view. Housed inside the main hall is a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power).

To the right of the main hall is the Jijang-jeon. Housed inside this double altar hall is a large green-haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the left and an intricately painted Dragon Ship of Wisdom mural to the right. To the far left of the main hall sits the bell pavilion, as well as a stout three-tier stone pagoda.

Housed slightly to the left of the main hall, and up a set of stairs, is the rather large Samseong-gak shaman shrine. The exterior walls to this hall are decorated with various murals including a painting dedicated to the Bodhidharma. As for inside this hall, and sitting in the centre of the main altar, is a rather long, but slender, mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). This painting is joined on either side by a mural dedicated to both Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) and Doseong (The Lonely Saint), respectively. Perhaps the most interesting painting of the group is the mural dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King) with its vibrant colours and stoically seated king.

The final part of Gwaneumsa Temple that visitors can see is a large golden statue of Mireuk-bul sitting on top of a neighbouring hillside. He’s surrounded by a pantheon of smaller sized statues dedicated to various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Slightly down the hill, and to the left, are a triad of larger stone statues dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal, Munsu-bosal, and Bohyun-bosal, respectively.

Admission to the temple is free.

HOW TO GET THERE: You’ll need to take a bus towards Sancheondan from Jeju City. The bus departs every twenty minutes and the ride should last about 30 minutes. When the bus drops you off at Sancheondan, you’ll need to walk an additional thirty minutes to the temple. The signs should help guide your way.

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10. Perhaps the most famous temple on Jeju-do Island, Gwaneumsa Temple has a lot for the temple adventurer to see. From its beautiful entryway to the koi pond, the temple has a lot of aesthetic beauty. And when you couple it with the large-sized golden statue of Mireuk-bul on the hillside, as well as the Dragon Ship of Wisdom and Yongwang murals, you’ll definitely need to make Gwaneumsa Temple a stop in Jeju-do!

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The Iljumun Gate at Gwaneumsa Temple.

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The beautiful entry path that leads up to the temple grounds.

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Just one of the statues helps guide the way.

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The Cheonwangmun Gate at the temple.

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The meditative shrine cave at Gwaneumsa Temple.

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The beautiful koi pond at the temple.

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The view as you first approach the temple courtyard.

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To the far left stand this three-tier pagoda and two story bell pavilion.

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Straight ahead is the copper-coloured main hall.

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 The main altar inside the main hall with Seokgamoni-bul sitting front and centre.

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To the right of the main hall is the Jijang-jeon.

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The altar inside the Jijang-jeon with a large statue of the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife sitting all alone.

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To the right hangs this highly elaborate Dragon Ship of Wisdom mural.

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Up the embankment stands the larger sized Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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Housed inside is this colourful mural dedicated to Yongwang.

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A bit up the hillside, and you’ll be welcomed by a golden Mireuk-bul.

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Back at the entrance rests this beautiful shrine dedicated to Amita-bul.

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He’s joined by this fierce guardian statue.

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 And this one, as well.