Wonmyeongsa Temple – 원명사 (Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do)


A view of the peaceful Wonmyeongsa Temple grounds.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Wonmyeongsa Temple is located up a side street that winds its way through older looking houses in Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do. It eventually connects to a forested road that leads past a set of stupas. Past these stupas, and slightly up an embankment, is Wonmyeongsa Temple.

The first thing to greet you at the temple is a beautiful new bell pavilion. This bell pavilion, uniquely, is situated a fair distance from the temple’s courtyard. Housed inside of this bell pavilion are newly crafted percussion instruments. Both the Brahman Bell and the Cloud Gong still have the fresh bronze look to them. And the colourful Fish Gong is second-to-none in both its design and bright colours.

A bit further up the embankment is the uninviting front facade to the temple. You’ll have to pass by a family of guard dogs that are unchained. Interestingly, the visitors’ centre and kitchen are the face to this temple. Up a set of cement stairs, you’ll first enter the grassy temple courtyard. On the far right side of the temple courtyard are the monks’ dorms.

Straight ahead is the larger sized main hall at Wonmyeongsa Temple. Out in front of the main hall, and an overriding theme at this temple, is an eloquently designed statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Surrounding the exterior walls of this main hall is the set of Shimu-do murals. While simple in design, the Ox-Herding murals are masterfully painted.

As for the interior of the main hall, and sitting on the main altar, is a triad centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s flanked by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). This main altar is flanked by another triad to the left. In the centre of this triad is a seated Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). He’s flanked by Ilgwang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Sun) and Wolgwang (The Bodhisattva of the Moon) on either side. And yet another triad sits to the right of the main altar. In the centre of this triad is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). To the left is Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). All of these triads are surrounded by towering red canopies. Also, the base of the altar is comprised of the Palsang-do motif. On the far right wall is the temple’s guardian painting that has several dozen Bodhisattvas and shaman deities. And on the far left wall is a green-haired statue of Jijang-bosal and a large sized mural of the Bodhisattva, as well. Flanking both of these murals, the one of Jijang-bosal and the guardian painting, are dozens of tiny Buddha and Bodhisattva statues.

The other building that you can visit at the temple is the newly constructed Jijang-jeon dedicated to Jijang-bosal. While this hall is still unpainted, the interior has a set of seven Jijang-bosal statues centred by a larger sized seated Jijang-bosal statue. And to the left of this hall is a stoically standing granite statue of Jijang-bosal. In his right hand rests a golden staff and in his left rests a cupped pearl.

HOW TO GET THERE: Using the Busan subway system, you’ll need to get off at Gupo Subway Station (line 3). From there, exit the subway station and find the Gupo bus stop. Take Bus #125 for 16 stops, or 22 minutes, and get off at the Chojeong bus stop. From there, walk about 850 metres, or 12 minutes, to Wonmyeongsa Temple. Along the way, you’ll see a brown sign with the temple name on it leading you towards the temple.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. There are definitely a couple of highlights to this temple that houses so much Jijang-bosal iconography. One is all the artwork and statues that sit upon the altar inside the main hall. Another is the base of the altar itself with the colourful depictions of the Palsang-do motif. And finally, the large granite statue of Jijang-bosal, and the neighbouring bronze statue of this Bodhisattva, which round out the highlights to this peaceful temple.


The uniquely located bell pavilion at Wonmyeongsa Temple.


The colourful fish gong inside the bell pavilion.


The rather uninviting yellow front facade at Wonmyeongsa Temple.


The large main hall at the temple.


A look inside the main hall at the main altar. Seokgamoni-bul is joined by Munsu-bosal and Bohyun-bosal.


To the left of the main altar is this shrine dedicated to Amita-bul in the centre. He’s joined by Gwanseeum-bosal and Daesaeji-bosal.


And to the right sits Yaksayore-bul in the centre of his own shrine.


Some of the intricate main altar wood work. This panel depicts Maya, Buddha’s mother, having a dream of her son’s impending birth.


From birth to death, this is the final panel in the collection of Palsang-do etchings.


The large guardian mural inside the main hall at Wonmyeongsa Temple.


A uniquely designed Nathwi adorning one of the exterior doors to the main hall.


One of the simplistic Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals.


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


A look at the main altar inside the Jijang-jeon at Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).


The view across the Jijang-jeon at the main hall.


And a beautiful look up at the unpainted Jijang-jeon.


And last, and to the left of the Jijang-jeon, is this beautiful granite statue of the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife.