Gwangmyeongsa Temple – 광명사 (Busanjin-gu, Busan)

The view from the main hall towards the entry gate at Gwangmyeongsa Temple in Busanjin-gu, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Gwangmyeongsa Temple is located in Busanjin-gu on the southwestern slopes of Mt. Palgeumsan (236m) in Busan. The temple was first built in 1920 by the monk Hyosup. You first approach the temple through Busan’s back streets and byways, until you come to a hospital and urban farms.

Over a cement bridge, you’ll see the beautiful entry gate that first welcomes you to Gwangmyeongsa Temple. The exterior walls are adorned with fierce Vajra warriors. Stepping through the gates, but before entering the main temple courtyard, look around inside the temple entry gate. You’ll notice a beautiful set of intimidating Sacheonwang (Four Heavenly Kings) murals.

Finally inside the temple grounds, you’ll notice the Daeung-jeon Hall straight ahead of you. The main hall is book-ended on both sides by the monks’ dorms and the visitors’ centre. The exterior walls to the main hall are beautifully adorned with masterful Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. Also, and up near the eaves, you’ll see fish wind chimes hanging from the corner of the rooftop. Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll notice a triad of statues seated on the golden main altar. Seated in the centre is an image of 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 Power and Wisdom for Amita-bul). And hanging on the left wall is a simplistic Shinjung Taenghwa, guardian mural.

To the right of the main hall is a diminutive bell pavilion that houses a beautiful bronze bell. Standing about a metre and a half in height, the bell is adorned with swirling images of Biseon (Flying Angels) and various Buddhist iconography.

To the left of the main hall is the Chilseong-gak, which now acts as the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. This simple building, which is both wood and brick in part, houses a beautiful older mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars), which rests in the middle of a triad of shaman paintings. This painting is joined on either side by more modern murals of a frowning Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) and a stern looking Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). And as you exit, if you haven’t already, take a look up at the fading, but beautiful, signboard.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Beomnaegol subway station, line #1, stop #118, you’ll need to find the Beomnaegol bus stop called “Beomnaegol Station.” From there, take bus #29. After 6 stops, or 7 minutes, get off at the Anchangmaeul Ipgu (안창마을 입구) stop. From this stop, walk 4 minutes towards the temple.

OVERALL RATING: 3.5/10. Smaller in size, Gwangmyeongsa Temple in Busan has intimidating entry doors when you first arrive at the temple. Adding to this artwork is the beautiful bronze bell and shaman paintings housed inside the Chilseong-gak.

The entry at Gwangmyeongsa Temple.

The beautiful, yet intimidating, entry gate at Gwangmyeongsa Temple.

One of the fierce Vajra warrior paintings that adorns one of the temple entry gates.

One of the Four Heavenly Kings that adorns the interior wall of the entry gate.

The Daeung-jeon Hall at Gwangmyeongsa Temple.

One of the Ox-Herding murals that adorns the exterior walls to the main hall.

One of the metal fish chimes adorning the main hall.

The main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.

The guardian mural that takes up residence inside the main hall.

The temple bell pavilion.

Inside is housed this beautiful bronze temple bell.

The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall at Gwangmyeongsa Temple.

It must have once been the Chilseong-gak.

The beautiful old Chilseong mural housed inside the Samseong-gak.

The more modern Sanshin mural also housed in the Samseong-gak.

As well as this curmudgeonly looking Dokseong mural.

And the view from the Samseong-gak out towards the temple grounds.

Gayasa Temple – 가야사 (Busanjin-gu, Busan)

The ancient Iljumun Gate and temple grounds at Gayasa Temple in Busanjin-gu, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Gayasa Temple in Busan is located on the northern part of Mt. Palgeumsan (236m) in Busanjin-gu. The temple is located near downtown Seomyeon; and with the right angle, you can get some great views of Busan down below and the port off in the distance.

You first approach Gayasa Temple down some backstreets and up a slight incline in the mountain. The first thing to greet you is the leaf covered Iljumun Gate at the temple. Next, you’ll climb a set of stairs that are lined with beautiful, mature trees.

Finally, after climbing the set of uneven stone and cement stairs, you’ll come to the main temple ground. The original temple Iljumun Gate welcomes you to the temple courtyard. With its slender pillars and fading Manja (swastika) symbol in the centre, this Iljumun Gate gives a glimpse a bit further back into Korean Buddhist artwork and architecture.

To the right of the ancient Iljumun Gate is the temple’s main hall and pagoda. The five tiered stone pagoda looks newer in design. As for the main hall, the exterior walls are adorned with beautiful Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. As for inside the Daeung-jeon main hall, you’ll see a triad of statues resting on the main altar. Seated in the centre is a statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). This statue is 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 an elaborate statue and mural dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). And to the left of the main altar is a golden capped statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Rounding out the artwork in the main hall is a Shinjung Taenghwa (guardian mural) that hangs on the far left wall.

To the left of the main hall and pagoda are commemorative tablets to the left and a beautiful pond. The large stone image of Gwanseeum-bosal sits behind the pond with her left foot raised. Praying in the middle of the pond is a stone image of a dongja (assistant).

Behind the pond, and up a set of stairs, are a pair of shrine halls. The first of the two is the Chilseong-gak. Have a look at the shrine hall’s signboard as you walk in. It’s absolutely stunning. As you step inside this shaman shrine hall, you’ll see a triad of statues resting on the main altar with an elaborate Chilseong mural backing these three statues. And painted on the wall is another incarnation of Chilseong (a rarity at Korean temples).

And the second of these two shaman shrine halls is the Sanshin/Dokseong-gak. Again, this shrine hall has a beautiful signboard hanging over the entry. Stepping inside, you’ll see beautiful, but rather traditional, images of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) to the left and Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) to the right.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Gayasa Temple, you’ll first need to ride the subway to Gaya Station, stop #221. Then, take exit #3. Head to your right and take the first major road that heads south. From there, you’ll cross a major road. Continue to head south towards the mountain. Eventually, you should be able to see the signs that guide you towards the temple. In total, from the subway, the walk should take 7 minutes, or 500 metres.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. While not the largest or most elaborate temple that you’ll visit in Korea, Gayasa Temple in Busan definitely has some beautiful highlights like the pair of Iljumun Gates that welcome you to the temple, as well as the temple pond and pair of signboards that hang over the entries of the shaman shrine hall.

The first of two Iljumun Gates at Gayasa Temple.

The set of stairs that lead up to the main temple grounds.

The beautiful, old Iljumun Gate that frames the rest of the temple grounds.

The memorial shrines at the temple entry.

The Daeung-jeon main hall and five tier stone pagoda at Gayasa Temple.

One of the Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals that adorns the exterior walls to the main hall.

A look inside the Daeung-jeon Hall with Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) seated in the centre of the main altar.

The statue of Gwanseeum-bosal and the two shaman shrine halls to the rear of the main hall.

A better look at the temple pond.

With Gwanseeum-bosal seated on the lip of the pond with a dongja praying towards her.

Inside the Chilseong-gak.

The mural that adorns an interior wall inside the Chilseong-gak.

The signboard that hangs above the entry to the Sanshin/Dokseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

The rather traditional mural dedicated to the Mountain Spirit, Sanshin.

Joined to the right by this painting of Dokseong, the Lonely Saint.