Nature reclaiming its own at Bukjijangsa Temple in northern Daegu.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Bukjijangsa Temple is located on the south side of the famed Mt. Palgongsan in northern Daegu. In English, the name means “North Jijang Temple,” after the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife. The temple was first believed to have been constructed in 465 A.D. by the monk Guktal-hwasang.
You first approach the temple up a long, uneven, country road. In a bend in the road, and slightly to the right, you’ll encounter the temple’s entry gate. This gate is overgrown by shrubbery, which almost seems like nature is trying to reclaim it. As you enter the gate, you’ll notice two fiercely painted guardians on either side of the walls.
Finally having passed through the entry gate, you’ll find yourself being greeted by the compact main hall. The main hall, which was first constructed in 1623, is largely unadorned all but for the dancheong colour schemes on the exterior walls. Rather remarkably, and this is a first for me, Jijang-bosal sits all alone on the main altar. This stone statue was first found behind the main hall. The mudra that Jijang is striking is a symbolic gesture to ward off evil spirits. It’s believed to date back to the latter half of the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.). And while it was found without a pedestal or nimbus, the statue is extremely well preserved for its age.
Just to the left of the main hall is a room, alongside monks’ dorms, that houses a plain shrine hall. Sitting in the centre of the triad of statues is 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). Uniquely, this triad is joined on the side by a masterful wooden sculpture of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), which is then framed by a fairly common painting of Yongwang (The Dragon King).
One more building in this courtyard is the Sanshin-gak, which houses a gentle-looking mural of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). Uniquely, there are wooden dragon-like door handles placed on all the entries to this shaman shrine hall.
The final part of the temple you can visit is past another set of monks’ dorms and a storage shed, both of which have seen better days. However, during the fall months, the monks hang persimmons from the eaves for them to dry in the warm sunlight. Just behind this storage shed is the Jijang-jeon. For obvious reasons, this hall is extremely popular at Bukjijangsa Temple.
Out in front of this hall are a twin pair of three-story stone pagodas that are believed to date back to the Silla Dynasty. While rather typical in design, they are well preserved and joined by a koi pond near the exit that is well stocked with large fish.
HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Bukjijangsa Temple is a bit complicated. First, from the Dong Daegu subway stop, you’ll need to head towards Ansim, which is on the first line. After two stops, get off at Ahyanggyo subway stop. Take exit # 2 and head towards the bus station. From there, you can either take bus #401 during the weekdays or the Palgong #2 bus on weekends or holidays. The bus ride will last 30 stops; after which, you’ll need to get off at the Jinin-dong (yangji maeul) stop. From there, you’ll need to walk 25 minutes towards the Daegu Ole gil Palgongsan 1 course (hiking trail). On foot, you’ll head up this road for 18 minutes, or 1.2 km.
OVERALL RATING: 6/10. Bukjijangsa Temple is beautifully framed by the towering Mt. Palgongsan. In addition to its natural beauty, you can also enjoy the historic, and extremely rare, stone statue of Jijang-bosal that sits inside the main hall. There’s a lot to see at this temple on a restful autumn day.
A persimmon tree at the entry of the temple.
Fall colours at Bukjijangsa Temple.
One of the guardians inside the entry gate at the temple.
The compact main hall at Bukjijangsa Temple.
The very rare statue of Jijang-bosal inside the main hall.
To the left, and inside a makeshift hall, is this triad of statues.
Just to their right are Dokseong and Yongwang.
The Sanshin-gak to the rear of the main hall.
Just one of the dragon-like door handles adorning the Sanshin-gak.
The mural of Sanshin inside the shaman shrine hall.
The view from the Sanshin-gak.
And a look towards the main hall.
The popular Jijang-jeon at Bukjijangsa Temple.
A storage building with persimmons hanging from the eaves.
One of the Silla-era pagodas.
And finally, the koi pond at the temple.