Yongjusa Temple – 용주사 (Changnyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do)

Inside the main hall at Yongjusa Temple in Changnyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Yongjusa Temple, not to be confused with the more famous one in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi-do, is located in Changnyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do. Yongjusa Temple, in English, means “Dragon Jewel Temple.” There are two Yongjusa Temples in Changnyeong. This Yongjusa Temple is located in Gyeseong-myeon. The temple is beautifully framed by Mt. Guhyeonsan (579m). And just to the north is the more popular Samseongam Hermitage. Yongjusa Temple belongs to the Taego-jong Order, which allows its monks to marry.

You first approach Yongjusa Temple off the main highway and down a country road. The entry to the temple is wide and spacious, and the main hall just kind of sits there in a clearing. The first thing you’ll notice is the main hall, which points to the south. There are elaborate blue floral patterns that adorn the exterior walls to this hall, as well as large Shimu-do, Ox-Herding murals.

Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll notice a triad of statues seated on the main altar. Sitting in the centre is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the right of the main altar is a shrine dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). And on the far right wall is another shrine; this time, it’s dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). And to the left of the main altar hangs a beautiful Shinjung Taenghwa, guardian mural. The interior, much like the exterior, is decorated with simplistic Buddhist motif murals, which are somewhat in contrast to the murals you’ll find at Jogye-jong Order temples.

To the left rear of the main hall is the Sanshin-gak Hall. Inside is housed a simplistic painting dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), as well as a statue dedicated to Sanshin-dosa.

In front of the Sanshin-gak, and almost parallel with the main hall, is the Yongwang-dang. Housed inside this hall is another simplistic shaman painting; however this time, the painting is dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). In front of this painting is a beautiful green dragon statue.

HOW TO GET THERE: If you’re attempting to get to Yongjusa Temple from Daegu, Busan, or Miryang, you can take a bus that heads to the city of Yeongsan. The bus to Yeongsan specifically says Yeongsan-haeng (영산행) on it. During this bus ride to Yeongsan, you’ll have to get off at Gyeseong. And from Gyeseong, you can take a local a taxi. You simply have to tell the taxi driver “Yongjusa” and they’ll know the rest, hopefully.

OVERALL RATING: 3/10. While smaller in size, Yongjusa Temple does have a few highlights to enjoy. First, it’s a Taego-jong Order temple, which has a different feel than a Jogye-jong Order temple (which are the majority of temples in Korea), or even Cheontae-jong Order temples. So it’s a great introduction to a different sect especially when looking at the various artwork. And seeing Yongjusa Temple and the neighbouring Samseongam Hermitage together can make for a nice little day trip.

The main hall as you first approach it.

Some beautiful flowers in bloom in and around the temple grounds.

One of the Shimu-do murals adorning the main hall.

And another of the paintings from the Ox-Herding mural set.

The main altar inside the main hall with Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) sitting in the middle.

To the right of the main altar is this shrine dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).

On the far right wall is this altar dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).

And to the left of the main altar is this Shinjung Taenghwa (guardian mural).

The front facade to the main hall at Yongjusa Temple.

The Sanshin-gak at Yongjusa Temple.

Inside is this mural dedicated to Sanshin and a statue dedicated to Sanshin-dosa.

Inside the Yongwang-dang is a mural and statue dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King).

In front of Yongwang is this beautiful dragon statue.

And off in the distance is the neighbouring Samseongam Hermitage.

Yongjusa Temple – 용주사 (Hwaseong, Gyeonggi-do)

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An overcast sky at Yongjusa Temple in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Yongjusa Temple, which means “Dragon Jewel Temple,” in English, is located in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi-do. Yongjusa Temple was first founded in 854 A.D. It was first known as Galyangsa Temple. During the 10th century, the temple was further expanded. The temple was completely destroyed in 1636 during the Manchu War. But in 1790, under the orders of King Jeongjo, the temple was rebuilt in honour of his deceased father, Prince Sado (1735-62). This was one of the few times during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), under the heavy influence of Confucian ideology, that the Joseon royal house supported Buddhism directly. It was also at this time that the temple changed its name to its current one: Yongjusa Temple.

You first enter the temple grounds through the Cheonwangmun Gate. Housed inside this gate are some of the fiercest Heavenly Kings that you’ll find in Korea. With their eye-popping intensity, they exemplify the intimidating poses these figures should make when welcoming visitors to temples.

Past the admission booth, and up a meandering pathway, you’ll next come to the Hongsalmun Gate at Yongjusa Temple. With two red painted poles connected by a top beam, this gate speaks to the temple’s royal ancestry. Typically, this style of gate is found at a royal tomb.

Through the neighbouring Sammun Gate that is adorned with some ancient stone statues, you’ll enter the outer courtyard that houses a five-story stone pagoda. It’s only after you get your fill of the natural beauty that surrounds the temple in this part of the grounds that you’ll pass through the Boje-ru Pavilion. It is only then that you stand inside the temple courtyard.

Sitting in the centre of the temple grounds is the Daeungbo-jeon. The exterior walls of the hall are painted with Palsang-do murals; but uniquely, there’s no pagoda framing the main hall at Yongjusa Temple. Inside, the main hall is highly elaborate. Sitting on the main altar are a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul. He’s joined on either side by Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha) and Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). The statues on the main altar are backed by a highly original platform painting. Measuring four metres in height and three metres in width, it was painted by Kim Hongdo, who was a famous Korean painter as well as the county magistrate. The life-like features of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are quite unique in their design. The older looking canopy, as well as the white-clad Gwanseeum-bosal and Gamno-do painting make the interior to this hall a must see at Yongjusa Temple.

To the left of the main hall is the Cheonbul-jeon Hall. Housed inside this hall are a thousand tiny white Buddha statues, as well as spherical golden lights that front the golden triad of statues that sit on the main altar. Behind this hall is the compact Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. All three of the shaman murals inside this hall are unique, but it’s the Sanshin mural that stands out the most with the big headed tiger protectively standing next to The Mountain Spirit.

To the right of the Samseong-gak, and across a bit of a field, is the elegantly designed pagoda. In front of this pagoda are two more shrine halls. One of the two is the Jijang-jeon Hall that houses a green haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) on the main altar. The exterior walls to this hall are painted with murals that illustrate the various stages in life. The other shrine hall, the Hoseong-jeon, houses the memorial tablets of Prince Sado. Out in front of this hall is a uniquely designed three-story pagoda with a black body that has Korean writing on it about filial piety.

In total, the temple houses National Treasure #120, as well as two additional Treasures.

Admission to the temple is 1,500 won.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Yongjusa Temple, you’ll first need to get to Byeongjeom Station on  Line 1 on the Seoul subway system. From there, you’ll need to take the bus from behind the station. You can take any number of green buses like Bus #34, 34-1, 44, 46, 47, or 50. The bus ride to the temple should take ten to fifteen minutes.

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10. There are quite a few unique features to Yongjusa Temple which starts at the entry with the intense statues of the Heavenly Kings and continues towards the Hongsalmun Gate. Another amazing feature is the temple bell, which also just so happens to be National Treasure #120. In combination with these features, you can enjoy all the amazing murals around the temple grounds like the Sanshin mural and the murals inside the main hall. With the temple pagodas, you have more than enough reason to visit this royal temple from the 18th century.

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The Cheonwangmun Gate that welcomes you to Yongjusa Temple.

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One of the intimidating, and eye-bulging, Heavenly Kings.

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The path that leads up to the temple grounds.

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The Hongsalmun Gate at Yongjusa Temple.

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Some of the decorative artwork in front of the Sammun Gate.

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A look towards the Boje-ru Gate at Yongjusa Temple.

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The five-story stone pagoda out in front of the Boje-ru Pavilion.

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Passing under a ceiling of dragons and the Boje-ru Pavilion.

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The Daeungbo-jeon main hall at Yongjusa Temple.

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 One of the Palsang-do murals that adorns the main hall.

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A look inside the Daeungbo-jeon at the main altar.

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A look towards the Cheonbul-jeon and Samseong-gak.

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National Treasure #120.

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A look inside the Cheonbul-jeon at Yongjusa Temple.

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The uniquely styled Sanshin mural.

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The view from the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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The white two story pagoda at Yongjusa Temple.

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A closer look at the highly stylized pagoda.

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A look towards the Jijang-jeon.

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One of the life-cycle murals that adorns the Jijang-jeon.

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And a look inside the Jijang-jeon at Jijang-bosal.

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A look towards the neighbouring Hoseong-jeon and the three-story pagoda that stands out in front of it.

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A look inside the Hoseong-jeon at the memorial tablets housed inside it.

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One last look at the temple grounds at Yongjusa Temple.

Yongjusa Temple – 용주사 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The changing leaves and the unique pagodas line the path that lead to the Samseong-gak shrine hall at Yongjusa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

I’ve been to most of the well known temples here in Yangsan, so I thought I would try out one of the lesser known ones. And like most of the temples and hermitages in Yangsan, I wasn’t disappointed.

When you first approach the temple from the unpaved parking lot, you’ll be welcomed by a cement wall with murals on them as well as stone statues. As you continue walking up the path, you’ll realize that these three dozen statues represent the Nahan (The disciples of the Buddha) as they sit on the cement wall in various poses. In front of them, and on the embankment, are statues of the twelve zodiac animals as well as three stupas dedicated to deceased monks from the temple. All this stone sculpting is beautifully done, especially the Nahan, so take your time and look at all the angelic and twisted faces.

To the far right is the monks’ dorm, which looks more like an old 1930’s North American house than it does a monks’ dorm. Straight ahead is the beautiful bell pavilion that also acts as a Cheonwangmun Gate for the Four Heavenly Kings. These kings are painted on either side of the walls as you pass under the bell pavilion. There is also a cute looking wooden Podae-hwasang statue that stands on the left side of the entrance-way into the Cheonwangmun Gate.

Entering into the main courtyard at the temple, you’ll immediately realize that this temple is a little different than others. At this temple, there are hundreds of uniquely designed stone pagodas on the right embankment. Continuing up this embankment, you’ll see an enclave area with a golden statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) backed by five of the uniquely designed stone pagodas. Further up the path, and next to the trees that are changing all different colours in the autumn air, is the Samseong-gak shrine hall dedicated to the three most popular shaman gods: Chilseong (The Seven Stars), San shin (The Mountain god), and Dokseong (The Recluse). All three have beautiful paintings dedicated to them inside the hall.

But back at the bell pavilion, as you first enter into the courtyard, you’ll see a beautiful main hall that’s surrounded by the autumn colours. The main hall is also surrounded by the Palsang-do paintings about the Buddha’s life. These paintings are larger in size and well executed. Inside the main hall sits Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) with Moonsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Strength) on either side of him. The most interesting thing inside the main hall is the stone sculpture of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) on the far left. What is most unique about this Gwanseeum-bosal is the multi-armed white mural that sits behind the seated Gwanseeum-bosal. Have a look because it’s amazing!

Behind the main hall is a highly unique structure that acts as a building for both Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). On the bottom is the Myeongbu-jeon hall that houses Jijang-bosal. He is joined by a wall of a hundred smaller statues of himself on the right wall. The ceiling of this building is beautifully painted with different Bodhisattvas, Biseon, and animals. Surrounding this bottom portion of the hall are some of the most amazingly rendered punishments of hell in all of Korea (only second to Songnimsa Temple in Daegu). The top tier of this structure is taken up by Amita-bul. Inside, much like the Myeongbu-jeon hall, Amita-bul is sitting on the main altar of a triad, and he’s surrounded by hundreds of smaller statues of himself. The exterior of this hall is painted with murals of a mother rearing her child from birth to when he returns home when she’s old and gray.

Uniquely, this Yongjusa Temple has a shrine hall dedicated solely to Yongwang, the Dragon King. To the right of this hall is a coy pond that was covered in beautiful yellow leaves that had fallen to the ground. Inside the hall is a stone seated statue of Yongwang with two dragons overhead. The exterior of the hall has an amazing mural of Yongwang on the right side and Gwanseeum-bosal on the left.

HOW TO GET THERE: Yongjusa Temple is a little complicated to get to. First, take City Bus #12. This bus travels from Busan to Yangsan, and then onto Eonyang. You can get this bus either in front of Oncheonjang, PNU, Dusil, or Bemeosa Busan subways stops. You can also catch this bus easily from the Yangsan Intercity Bus Terminal. From the Yangsan Intercity Bus Terminal, you should ride the bus until you get to Hanseong Apartments (the 12th stop). After you’re dropped off, travel north up the road for 5 minutes. Finally, you’ll be able to find a brown city sign with the name of the temple “Yongjusa: 용주사.” Turn right at this sign, and follow the twisting road as it heads under the highway bridge. You’ll finally arrive at the temple after 5 minutes.

View 선지사 in a larger map

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. To say I was pleasantly surprised by this temple is an understatement. I was expecting it to be a quaint temple with little to see and explore. Luckily for me, and anyone else that may set out to see it, there’s a lot more to this temple than might first be expected. The highlights of this temple are the hundreds of stone pagodas that are highly original in design,  the structure that houses both Jijang-bosal and Amita-bul, as well as the Yongwang shrine hall and Gwanseeum-bosal painting inside the main hall. With all this temple has to offer, you’ll realize why I rate this temple as high as I do.

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The entrance to Yongjusa Temple.
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The first thing that greets you to the temple are these stupas and a pantheon of Nahan figures and the zodiac statues.
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A better look at four of the twelve zodiac statues: the dragon, rat, horse and sheep.
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And a better look at a line of Nahan statues that are situated above the zodiac statues.
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One especially unique looking Nahan.
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The bell pavilion that you pass under to gain admittance to the temple courtyard.
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As you pass under the bell pavilion, you’ll realize that it also acts as the Cheonwangmun Gate that houses the Four Heavenly Kings. On the walls are the four painted kings.
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At the side of the bell pavilion, just before you enter, is this cute wooden Podae-hwasang figure.
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The beautiful main hall and courtyard at Yongjusa Temple. To the right are the hundreds of unique pagodas at the temple.
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Inside the main hall is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And on either side of him are Moonsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power).
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To the left of the main altar piece is this unique stone statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) with an equally unique multi-armed mural behind her.
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To the right of the main hall, and up the embankment, is this golden statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).
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And up the trail, and still along the embankment, is the Samseong-gak shrine hall dedicated to the three most popular shaman gods. The embankment is lined with these unique and beautiful stone pagodas.
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Inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall is this painting of Dokseong, The Recluse.
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Behind the main hall is a set of structures. To the right is the small shrine hall dedicated to Yongwang, the Dragon King. Straight ahead, and on the bottom, is the shrine hall dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife), and on top is a hall dedicated to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).
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A look inside the Myeongbu-jeon shrine hall at Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).
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Surrounding the Myeongbu-jeon shrine hall are some of the most grotesque murals in all of Korea.
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They might even rival those of Songnimsa Temple in Daegu.
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On the upper part of the structure, and inside the hall, is this triad of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) in the centre.
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Surrounding the upper-tier are paintings of a mother rearing a child from birth to her old age. This painting depicts the mother in labour.
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A view of the upper-tier where the Samseong-gak shrine hall is housed over top of the Yongwang-gak shrine hall.
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A better look at the shrine hall that houses Yongwang.
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And inside the shrine hall is a stone figure of Yongwang sitting on a throne with two dragons overhead.
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And outside the Yongwang shrine hall is this amazing mural of Yongwang accompanied by dragons and attendants.