Haegwangsa Temple – 해광사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

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The East Sea Yongwang-dang at Haegwangsa Temple in Gijang, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

This is only the second time in over five years that I’ve done this, with the first being Hongjeam Hermitage in Jirisan National Park; but like the first, I don’t think I fully explored this temple. So without further ado, here’s a follow up to Haegwangsa Temple in Gijang, Busan.

Like its close coastal cousin, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, Haegwangsa Temple is one of the rare temples in Korea that’s situated next to the East Sea.

You first approach the temple up a bit of a side street, where an upright brown stone marker reads “해광사.” With the East Sea to your left, you’ll first approach Haegwangsa Temple through a pair of buildings that slightly obscure the temple grounds. It’s through this opening that you’ll notice the Daeung-jeon main hall straight ahead of you. Wrapped around the exterior walls to the temple’s main hall are an eclectic set of murals which include the Ox-Herding mural set, the Palsang-do mural set, a mural dedicated to Wonhyo-daesa and Uisang-daesa, as well as the Bodhidharma and several other Buddhist inspired motifs. As for the interior of the Daeung-jeon Hall, the first things you’ll notice are the row upon row of tiny jade statuettes of the Buddha. As for the main altar itself, a triad of statues sit upon it. Sitting in the centre is a statue of 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 left of the main hall and past a ten metre tall white statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) is the temple’s Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. On the right exterior wall is one of the most beautiful floral paintings you’ll see on any temple shrine hall in Korea. The purple lotus flowers are simply amazing. As for inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall, you’ll find a set of shaman murals that includes Chilseong (The Seven Stars) and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). But it’s the mural to the far left of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) with his eyes wide apart that’s the most intriguing of the set.

To the right of the main hall and past the replica of the Dabo-tap pagoda from Bulguksa Temple is Haegwangsa Temple’s Myeongbu-jeon Hall. The exterior walls to this hall are painted with various hellish and redemptive murals. As for the interior, and resting on the main altar, is a green haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Jijang-bosal is joined on both sides by two rows, five statues each, of the Ten Kings of the Underworld.

Making your way back towards the temple parking lot and hanging a right, you’ll need to make your way towards the East Sea to enjoy the main highlight at Haegwangsa Temple. A simple one hundred metre stroll will bring you to the crashing blue waves of the sea. And perched on a jagged, black rock outcropping is the temple’s Yongwang-dang. This shaman shrine hall is dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). Carefully following the somewhat slippery rocky path, you’ll climb a set of stairs and enter the diminutive shrine hall. An orange robed statue of the Dragon King sits squarely on a dragon themed throne. There are numerous pigeons enjoying the seaside air. Also, you can get some great angles of the Yongwang-dang and the East Sea together if you take your time in search of the perfect coastal snapshot.

HOW TO GET THERE:  To get to Haegwangsa Temple, you can simply walk the kilometre from Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. Turn right, and then walk straight down the highway you first approached the temple from. You’ll notice a large brown rock with the Korean words for Haegwangsa Temple carved into it. Also, you could simply get a taxi from Haedong Yonggungsa Temple to drive you to the temple. It shouldn’t cost you any more than 3,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. While smaller in size, and not quite as impressive as the neighbouring Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, Haegwangsa Temple has a unique charm all of its own. The paintings around all three of the temple shrine halls are beautiful; but without doubt, the most impressive feature to the temple is the seaside Yongwang-dang with waves crashing up against it. The location of the Yongwang-dang is a one-off in all of the temple’s I’ve visited throughout the Korean peninsula.

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The front entrance as you first approach the temple grounds at Haegwangsa Temple.

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The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall with the towering statue of Mireuk-bul next to it.

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A better look at the all-white Mireuk-bul.

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The purplish-blue lotus flowers painted on the exterior wall of the Samseong-gak Hall.

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Inside the Samseong-gak with Chilseong to the left and Sanshin to the right.

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The sad eyes of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

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The Myeongbu-jeon Hall at Haegwangsa Temple with the Dabo-tap replica out in front of it.

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Inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall with Jijang-bosal front and centre.

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One of the underworld paintings that adorns the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.

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An early morning sunrise at Haegwangsa Temple.

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A better look at the Daeung-jeon main hall.

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One of the Ox-Herding murals that adorns the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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The Wonhyo and Uisang mural on the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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A look inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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A temple stupa on the way towards the Yongwang-dang.

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The first amazing glimpse of the seaside Yongwang-dang.

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The coastal waters that flow in and around the shaman shrine hall.

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A better look at the crowning Yongwang-dang.

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An even closer look at the one-off shaman shrine hall.

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The main altar inside the Yongwang-dang with the Dragon King front and centre.

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One final look at this truly amazing place.

Myogwaneumsa Temple – 묘관음사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

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The view from the upper courtyard at Myogwaneumsa Temple in Gijang, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located just east of Mt. Daleumsan and hugging the coastline is the well-kept grounds associated with Myogwaneumsa Temple in Gijang, Busan. Off of a bit of a hidden entrance, and along a dirt road, you’ll finally come to the temple parking lot at Myogwaneumsa Temple.

You’ll first be welcomed to the temple by the visitors’ centre. It’s up the set of stone stairs that you’ll pass through the entry gate at Myogwaneumsa Temple. Beautifully adorning the gate are a pair of intimidating guardians. Up on the adjoining walls to the gate are a pair of paintings dedicated to Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power), who rides a white elephant; he’s joined by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom), who rides a blue tiger.

Perfectly framed by the entry gate, and as you step inside the main temple courtyard, you’ll see the nine story stone pagoda at Myogwaneumsa Temple. Slender in size, painted images of various guardians adorn the base of the pagoda instead of being carved into the stone as reliefs, which is far more customary.

Past the pagoda and the book-ending dorms, you’ll find the temple’s main hall. Out in front of the main hall are a line of palm trees. Adorning the exterior walls to the main hall are masterful paintings of the Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. Stepping inside the Daeung-jeon main hall, you’ll notice a triad of statues and a pair of paintings on the main altar. Sitting in the centre of the triad of statues is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal and Bohyun-bosal. The red painting to the right of the triad of statues is dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). And the other red painting to the left is dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). The final mural hanging in the main hall is the descriptive guardian mural. The ceiling to the main hall, especially near the front altar, is adorned with various Buddhist-motif paintings.

To the right rear of the main hall stands the Josa-jeon Hall. This hall, with a floral exterior, is dedicated to prominent monks that once called Myogwaneumsa Temple home. In total, there are five murals hanging on the main altar inside this hall. The central painting with three monks are of Majo Doil, Namcheon Bowon, and Baekjang Huihae.

To the far rear of the temple grounds, and situated on the upper courtyard, are a pair of shrine halls. The first, which has a beautiful view of the neighbouring sea, is the Gwaneeum-jeon Hall. Fronted by a slim five tier stone pagoda is the newly built shrine hall, which houses two incarnations of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. The first is a diminutive golden statue of Gwanseeum-bosal. This seated image is joined by an elaborate wooden carving of the female Bodhisattva.

The final shrine hall at Myogwaneumsa Temple is situated to the left of the Gwaneum-jeon. The Samseong-gak at the temple is larger is size and houses three beautiful murals of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Chilseong, and Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

HOW TO GET THERE: From Jangsan subway station, stop #201,  you’ll need to walk about 4 minutes, or 230 metres, to get to the Jangsan post office bus stop. From there, take Bus #180. After 42 stops, or 55 minutes, get off at the Myogwaneumsa Temple entrance stop. From there, walk for 4 minutes, or 233 metres, to get to the temple.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. The grounds at Myogwaneumsa Temple are immaculately kept. It’s also beautifully situated by the sea. As for the temple itself, it has an amazing wooden image of Gwanseeum-bosal, as well as newer paintings of the three shaman deities that are masterful in their execution.

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A look through the front entry gate at Myogwaneumsa Temple.

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The painting of Munsu-bosal that adorns the front entry gate.

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As well as one of the guardians painted on the front entry gate.

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The main temple courtyard at the temple.

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Some of the paintings, uniquely, that adorns the base of the nine story pagoda.

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The tropical main hall at Myogwaneumsa Temple.

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One of the paintings from the Ox-Herding mural set.

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Inside the Daeung-jeon main hall.

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The main hall guardian mural.

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The Josa-jeon Hall to the right of the main hall at Myogwaneumsa Temple.

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A look inside the Josa-jeon Hall.

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To the rear of the temple, and located on the upper courtyard, is this newly built Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

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The main altar inside the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

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A closer look at the amazing wooden carving of Gwanseeum-bosal.

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The view down on the temple’s grounds from the upper courtyard.

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The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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The painting of Sanshin housed inside the Samseong-gak.

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As well as Dokseong.

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A look at the temple courtyard from the Daeung-jeon main hall.

Wonhyodae Temple – 원효대 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

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The emperor-looking Sanshin statue inside the packed Samseong-gak at Wonhyodae Temple in Gijang, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Named for the famed monk Wonhyo-daesa (617 A.D. to 686 A.D), Wonhyodae Temple is located in Gijang, Busan. In a valley just south-west of the towering peak of Mt. Daleumsan, the temple is scenically situated alongside other smaller temples like Daedosa Temple.

You first approach the temple alongside an offshoot of the Ilgwang-cheon River. At the end of this offshoot, and down a country road, lies Wonhyodae Temple. Hanging a left towards the temple sign that reads 원효대, you’ll arrive in the temple parking lot. The first sites to greet you are a collection of three Podae-hwasang statues. The bronze coloured statues are joined to the right by a smaller sized collection of statues of the Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul, teaching his disciples, the Nahan.

Straight ahead, and up a flight of stairs, is the Cheonwangmun Gate at Wonhyodae Temple. Inside the gate stand four crudely sculpted statues of the Four Heavenly Kings. But these statues are no way indicative of the rest of the temple. Passing through the slender Iljumun Gate, you’ll finally enter the main temple courtyard.

Straight ahead stands the rather boxy main hall. While understated on the exterior, as soon as you enter the main hall, you’ll be greeted by a row of nine large statues on the main altar. The three statues in the centre are of Seokgamoni-bul, Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom), and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). This triad is joined to the right by another triad. This triad is centred by Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). And he’s joined by Ilgwang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Sun) and Wolgwang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Moon). It’s also over in this part of the main hall that hangs the large guardian mural. And the triad of statues to the far left are centred by Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). This triad is joined in the corner by a mural and statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).

Situated to the left of the main hall are two additional shrine halls at Wonhyodae Temple. The first, which can only be entered through a side entrance on the right, is the Gwaneum-jeon Hall. Resting on the main altar is one of the most elaborate multi-armed and headed statues of Gwanseeum-bosal that I’ve seen in all of Korea. To the right hangs a collection of prominent monk portraits including Wonhyo-daesa. And to the left sits a triad of statues centred by Amita-bul. This triad is joined by a black guardian mural.

The other shrine hall in this area of the temple is the Myeongbu-jeon. As soon as you step inside, you’ll notice the unique statues including several guardians, the Ten Kings of the Underworld, as well as Jijang-bosal on the main altar. Of note, there is a stunning, modern Dragon Ship of Wisdom mural hanging elevated on the left side of the shrine hall.

Between the Gwaneeum-jeon and the main hall is a glass enclosure that also acts as another shrine hall on your way towards the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall that lies to the rear of the temple grounds. This glass enclosure acts as both a Yongwang-dang, which is dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King), as well as a shrine for an all-white Gwanseeum-bosal statue. The Yongwang shrine has a seated statue of the Dragon King, as well as one of the largest murals of the shaman deity that I have yet to see in Korea. To the right stands the large image of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Both are joined by mountain water that flows in and out of the glass shrine hall.

The final shrine hall you can explore at Wonhyodae Temple is the Samseong-gak shrine hall. Between the Gwaneum-jeon and Yongwang-dang, and up a bit of a wooded trail, is the Samseong-gak. The golden lettering at the front of the Samseong-gak is a sign of things to come. Stepping inside the Samseong-gak, you’ll be greeted by wall-to-wall multiples of the three most popular shaman deities in the Korean pantheon. Hanging on the right wall is a modern interpretation of Chilseong (The Seven Stars). To the left, on the main altar, hangs an older looking image of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), who is fronted by a statue of himself. Next, hangs a similarly styled painting of Chilseong as the Dokseong mural. In the centre of the main altar hangs a newer painting of Chilseong. To the left of the third Chilseong painting is a large statue of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), who is holding a large golden ginseng root. Sanshin is also wearing a large emperor’s crown. Rounding out the set is an older painting of Sanshin from the older set of three. And there is a peculiar guardian mural hanging on the left wall.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Jwacheon train station in Gijang, you’ll need to take a taxi to Wonhyodae Temple. The ride should last about 15 minutes and cost around 9,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. Wonhyodae Temple is a hard temple to rate. There are several unique features like the loaded Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall with the ginseng bearing Sanshin inside, as well as the glass enclosure for the Yongwang-dang. Also adding to the temple’s overall rating is the expansive main hall and the amazing Gwanseeum-bosal statue. However, it’s harder to get to and it has a modern concrete feel to it in places.

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The Cheonwangmun Gate at Wonhyodae Temple.

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One of three Podae-hwasang statues at the temple.

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Out in front of the Cheonwangmun Gate is this collection of statues of the Buddha and his disciples.

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One of the rudimentary statues of the Four Heavenly Kings.

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The main hall at Wonhyodae Temple.

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A look across the well-populated main altar inside the main hall.

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The statue of Jijang-bosal to the left of the nine main altar statues.

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A closer look at Amita-bul.

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The glass enclosure that both acts as a Yongwang-dang and Gwanseeum-bosal shrine.

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The large painting and statue of Yongwang.

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And the all-white statue of Gwanseeum-bosal that keeps Yongwang company.

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The Gwaneum-jeon Hall to the right with the Myeongbu-jeon Hall to the left.

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The main altar inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.

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The elaborate Dragon Ship of Wisdom painting inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.

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A look inside the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

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The mural of Wonhyo-daesa to the right of the main altar.

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A better look at the amazing multi-armed and headed Gwanseeum-bosal.

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The beautifully situated Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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A look around inside the Samseong-gak as you first enter the hall.

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The left corner that houses the unique statue and painting of Sanshin. Of note, there are three statues dedicated to the Mountain Spirit.

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And the view from the Samseong-gak.

Borimsa Temple – 보림사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

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An amazing angle inside of the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas at BorimsaTemple in Gijang, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

I had driven by this well hidden temple one time before, but it wasn’t until we were returning from Gijang, Busan that I found Borimsa Temple again. Not wanting to let a good opportunity pass me by again, we decided to visit the temple.

When you first make your way up to Borimsa Temple (보림사), you’re greeted by a stately Iljumun Gate. This gate is uniquely decorated with various painted patterns. A little further up the set of stone stairs, and under a canopy of multi-coloured paper lanterns, and you’ll see the main hall at the temple. Around the exterior of the main hall are some rather plain, bordering on the childish, Shimu-do (Ox-Herding) murals; however, the interior of the main hall more than makes up for its exterior. Sitting on the main altar are a triad of golden statues and golden reliefs. Sitting in the centre is Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). He’s flanked by a black haired Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the left, and a regal looking Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right. An equally impressive golden relief is to the right of the main altar. This amazing relief is an interpretation of the guardian mural. The interior of the main hall is extremely impressive to say the least. As for what surrounds the exterior of the main hall, there’s a well weathered, completely natural, bell pavilion. And to the right are some beautiful bouquets of various flowers.

Further up the trail, and on the second terrace, are a couple more shrine halls. The first shrine hall to greet you is the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas. These 1,000 Buddhas are fronted by a triad of statues. And in the centre of this triad is none other than Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). All throughout the interior of this all are some rather impressive Biseon paintings. Have a look up at the ceiling to gain a really good view of some of the more impressive Biseon paintings in Korea. As for the exterior of this hall, it’s surrounded by a set of childish Palsang-do paintings equal to the sophistication of the Shimu-do paintings around the main hall.

Next to the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas is the Geukrak-jeon. The exterior and interior of this hall are rather plain. However, the statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) that sits on the main altar makes up for a lot of this shortcoming.

The final hall that takes up residence at Borimsa Temple is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall that sits on the third terrace at the temple. The exterior paintings, like most of the other paintings at the temple, are rather crude and child-like. There is, however, one redeeming painting of a golden tiger on the right side of the exterior wall. As for the paintings inside the Samseong-gak, it’s the painting of Dokseong (The Recluse) and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) that are the most impressive. In fact, the Sanshin painting is a similar to the painting of this shaman deity found at Tongdosa Temple.

HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll have to get to Nopo Subway Station, line 1, stop #134. At the subway station, you’ll find a bus station. It’s from this bus station that you’ll have to take the bus called “마을버스 #금정구2-3 (Geumjeong-gu 2-3). It’ll take you 13 stops, then you’ll need to get off at the 마지 (Maji) stop. The bus ride will take you about 40 minutes.

The other way you can easily get to the temple is by taking a taxi from Nopo Subway Station. The ride lasts 20 minutes and it costs about 10,000 won. A little more expensive, but in a group, not that bad.


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OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. This temple is a bit of a mixed bag of sorts. While the exterior of the halls are extremely simplistic, bordering on crude, the interiors of the halls are opulent and amazing. Add the Iljumun Gate into the mix, and you get a rating of six and a half points out of ten, in my humblest of opinions.

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The colourful and stately Iljumun Gate at Borimsa Temple.
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A look from behind at the main hall at the temple.
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The rather crude Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals that adorn the exterior of the main hall.
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Some of the beautiful flowers that were in bloom.
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And a look at some more stunning flowers.
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A look inside the main hall at the altar. Sitting in the centre is Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). He’s flanked by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the left and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right.
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And to the right of the main altar is this elaborate guardian relief.
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The all-natural looking bell pavilion.
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On the second terrace is this shrine hall, the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas.
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The rather crude Palsang-do paintings that adorn the exterior of the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas.
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A look inside the amazingly decorative Hall of 1,000 Buddhas.
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Next to the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas is this hall: The Geukrak-jeon.
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And sitting on the altar inside the hall is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).
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And to the far right of this hall is this beautiful courtyard.
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The colourful entrance to the monk quarters at Borimsa Temple.
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And a look out at the valley that Borimsa Temple is situated in.
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The final hall at the temple sits on the third terrace: the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.
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The golden tiger that adorns the exterior wall of the Samseong-gak.
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A look at the Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) painting and statue inside the Samseong-gak.
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And a look at the Dokseong (The Recluse) painting and statue that is also inside the Samseong-gak.

Anjeoksa Temple – 안적사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

CSC_0303The beautiful Iljumun Gate with the rest of the temple seen through the pillars at Anjeoksa Temple in Busan.

 Hello Again Everyone!!

Anjeoksa Temple (안적사) is probably located in one of the most remote areas in Busan. I know, that sounds a bit like an oxy-moron, but it’s true. Isolated away from both the over-populated cityscape that is Busan, as well as the ocean, is the historic Anjeoksa Temple. And even though it was by chance that I even found this temple, I’m sure glad I did find it.

You first approach Anjeoksa Temple up an extremely steep set of long stairs. After climbing these stairs, you’re greeted by the beautiful Iljumun Gate. Lining the path that leads up to the next gate, the Cheonwangmun Gate (or Heavenly Kings’ Gate in English) are numerous fir trees. Also, and right in front of the Cheonwangmun Gate, are two protective cat-like guardians. Surrounding the entire exterior of the Cheonwangmun Gate are twelve paintings that depict the twelve zodiac signs. As for the interior, there are four uniquely designed Cheonwang statues. It’s rare to have a temple of this size house both the Iljumun Gate and the Cheonwangmun Gate, but lucky for us there are. And these two gates are masterfully created.

Upon entering the temple courtyard, you’ll be greeted by a three tiered stone pagoda. To the far left is a compact bell pavilion that houses a stout Brahma Bell. And next to the bell pavilion are a row of monk stupas underneath an ancient tree and surrounded by a bamboo forest. Interestingly, and lining the periphery of the temple grounds are at least five temple buildings. These temple buildings look to be former shrine halls that have been converted to either monk dorms and/or the temple’s main office and visitors’ centre. This is interesting because I’ve rarely seen this happen.

As for the temple buildings themselves, there are only two that a visitor can see: the main hall and the Samseong-gak shrine hall dedicated to Korean shaman deities. The exterior of the rather large main hall at Anjeoksa Temple is mainly adorned with the Shimu-do Ox-Herding murals. However, there are a couple of other paintings that depict the famous founding monks, Wonhyo-daesa and Uisang-daesa, visiting the future temple grounds of Anjeoksa Temple. As for the interior, the interior of the main hall is rather original and unique. Sitting on the main altar, and in the centre, is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). And sitting to his right is Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and sitting on the left side of the altar is Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). This triad is backed by a wooden sculpted black mural that masterfully displays various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and deities. To the right of the main altar is a black haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). He is backed by an equally amazing wooden sculpted black mural of himself in the company of other Bodhisattvas and deities. And on the far left wall is a large sized guardian sculpture in the same vein as the other wooden artwork inside the main hall. The only other thing of note inside the main hall are the murals above both side entrances of Moonsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and the blue tiger riding Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power).

The other building that visitors can view is the Samseong-gak shrine hall. The exterior is adorned with Daoist figures and a couple of murals of Wonhyo-daesa and Uisang-daesa, again. As for the interior, a newer looking Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural sits in the centre of the three most popular shaman deities in Korean shamanism. On the far left wall is a simplistic mural dedicated to Dokseong (The Recluse), and on the far right wall is a large sized San shin (The Mountain Spirit) mural. What’s interesting about the mural of San shin is that it’s a near replica of the San shin painting at Beomeosa Temple in Busan. However, in knowing that the head-monk at Anjeoksa Temple was first trained at Beomeosa Temple, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that he would want something familiar in his new temple of worship. The final things that occupy the Samseong-gak shrine hall are a row of paintings dedicated to famous monks. And not so surprising, two of the three are Wonhyo-daesa who sits in the middle, and Uisang-daesa who sits on the far right side of the hall’s right wall.

A couple of interesting little decorative things about this temple, and as you exit to the right of the temple courtyard, there’s a sheer-faced rock wall; however, somehow some people have been able to delicately place a few Buddhist figurines along the thinnest of rock ledges on this rock face. The other interesting part of this temple are the decorative stone monster faces that adorn the sides of the stairs that lead up to the main hall. They, like the San shin painting, are a near exact replica of the stone monster faces at Haeinsa Temple.

HOW TO GET THERE: Lately, it seems like I’ve been visiting more and more remote places that require you to have your own form of transportation, and this is yet another one of those temples. In fact, this is probably the most remote of places that I’ve visited in quite some time. Hopefully, if you want to visit this temple, the map will somewhat help you to find this beautiful temple.

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OVERALL RATING: 7/10. The uniqueness of having two large sized entrance gates like the Iljumun Gate and the Cheonwangmun Gate are just two of the highlights to this temple. The other highlights are the original black wood artwork inside the main hall, as well as all of the paintings inside of the Samseong-gak shrine hall. This beautifully scenic temple is well worth a visit if you can find it!

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The long, but scenic, set of stairs that leads up to the temple.
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The beautiful path that leads from the Iljumun Gate to the Cheonwangmun Gate.
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A look at the Cheonwangmun Gate at Anjeoksa Temple.
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A look across the front of the Cheonwangmun Gate with a look at a guardian that protects one of the entrance doors.
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Damun Cheonwang, just one of the four Heavenly Kings that helps protect the temple grounds.
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The view as you first enter into the temple courtyard.
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The extremely compact bell pavilion at Anjeoksa Temple.
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Just one of the stupas that sits under an ancient pine tree.
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A different look at the temple courtyard with a couple more temple buildings.
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A unique look up at the main hall at the temple.
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Just one of the Shimu-do murals around the exterior of the main hall.
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A mural of what appears to be Uisang-daesa deep in prayer.
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The main altar inside the main hall.
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A unique look up at the main altar and the centre statue, Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).
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The black haired Jijang-bosal inside the main hall, as well.
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The large wooden sculpted guardian artwork inside the main hall.
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A better look at the deities inside the guardian artwork.
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A beautiful mural of Moonsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom).
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A look over at the Samseong-gak shrine hall to the right rear of the main hall.
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The San shin painting inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall. This mural is nearly identical to the one at Beomeosa Temple in Busan.
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The wall of saints inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall at the temple.
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Just a couple of figurines on the sheer rock face at Anjeoksa Temple just before you exit the temple grounds.
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And finally, it was time to head home.

Sowonsa Temple – 소원사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

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The compact but colourful temple compound at Sowonsa Temple in Gijang, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

I thought for the upcoming Buddha’s birthday this Monday, I would post at least one extra posting this week. So having been out to this beautiful and picturesque part of Busan before, I thought I would visit the eastern part of the city by the sea once more.

When you first arrive at Sowonsa Temple (소원사), your eyes are met by a world of colours and Buddhist iconography. And while it borders on excess, it doesn’t go past it. Standing in the parking lot, you’ll make your way over a stone bridge that spans a diminutive pond that is filled with colourful carp. Over this bridge is a small shrine hall solely dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). This shrine hall is neighboured by a shrine dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the left. And there’s another wall shrine dedicated to hundreds of tiny golden Buddha statues, which is a little bit further left of these other two shrines.

After viewing these two shrines and the shrine hall, you’ll make your way up a long entrance hall that leads up to the main temple courtyard. Along the way, there are two Buddha statues that monks pour water over their heads during Buddha’s birthday. Also, there are murals dedicated to the twelve Zodiac signs and the 10 Kings of the Underworld along the way. And just before you enter the temple courtyard, there are a set of very unique murals in the entranceway.

Finally, arriving in the temple courtyard, you’ll be greeted once again by a tantalizing amount of colours, sounds, and structures. Immediately in front of the long set of stairs that leads up to the main hall is an amazing eleven tier pagoda. It’s beautifully adorned with various Biseon, Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas. To the right of this pagoda is a two storied building. On the first floor is a funeral home that houses various statues of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). And depending on just how much money you’re spending on your dearly departed, is how large of a room and statue of Jijang-bosal you’ll receive. On the second floor is a large room that is filled with hundreds of gold statues of various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. And sitting on the main altar is a large multi-armed and headed Gwanseeum-bosal statue. Gwanseeum-bosal is joined by four larger statues in the sea of smaller ones. To the immediate left and right are Jijang-bosal and Seokgamoni-bul. And even further left and right are probably Moonsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power).

To the left of this building is the main hall. Around the exterior of this main hall are some well composed paintings of the Palsang-do murals. As for the interior of this hall, and sitting upon the rather large main altar, is a triad centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s flanked by Moonsu-bosal to the left and Bohyun-bosal to the right. To the right of this triad is an equally large sized mural of Chilseong (The Seven Stars). And to the left of this triad is a mural of Jijang-bosal that is accompanied by a memorial wall for the dead. The most interesting part of this interior is the guardian painting that has a large golden statue of Dongjin-bosal (The Bodhisattva that Protects the Buddha’s Teachings). I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen an accompanying statue of this Bodhisattva in front of a guardian painting before.

Up the embankment, and a large set of metal stairs, is the world famous San shin-gak. In fact, the sign leading up to the shrine says, in Korean, that it’s the largest sized San shin shrine in all of Asia. I’m pretty sure this isn’t true, but nothing wrong with a little self-promotion. Inside, what looks to be a man-made cave, is a shrine hall dedicated to San shin (The Mountain Spirit). There is a large statue of this spirit with a fading mural of himself at the statues back. Interestingly, there is an adjoining cave with nothing in it inside the San shin-gak. To the right of the San shin-gak is the Dokseong-gak. It’s rather small and has a very simplistic statue and painting of Dokseong (The Recluse). Another interesting aspect to this temple, and nearby these two shrine halls, is a small display case that houses folded paper. Much like in the style of the Japanese, people write their wishes down on them and then fold them and place them in this display case so that their wishes come true.

To the rear of the temple is a small man-made pond. There is a nice little deck that looks out onto the entire temple complex. Also, there’s a nice little landing that you can step out onto to have a better look at the large sized golden Gwanseeum-bosal statue.

The final area of the compact temple complex that packs in so much into such a small area is probably one of the most unique areas I’ve ever seen at a temple. There are about half a dozen structures shaped like a spire and yellow in colour. On top of these spires are various Buddha and Bodhisattva statues, while inside of these structures are paintings and statues of various Buddhas and shaman deities like Seokgamoni-bul and Chilseong (The Seven Stars). Strangely, it almost resembles a mini-golf area. Up above this area is a small shrine hall that houses a sari of unknown origins. And to the right of this shrine hall is a display case that houses all of the Nahan (The Disciples of the Historical Buddha).

And just as you’re about to leave, and almost as though you couldn’t see anything more, there is an area that houses large statues of various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The centralized triad in this group is Seokgamoni-bul, Gwanseeum-bosal, and Jijang-bosal.

HOW TO GET THERE: From Busan, you’ll have to take the subway to Beomeosa Subway Station, #133, on the first line. After exiting out of Exit #2, you’ll see a bus that says “Sowonsa – 소원사”. This bus only leaves from this subway stop at 10 A.M. And it arrives at Sowonsa Temple at 10:30. I’m not exactly sure when this bus returns to Beomeosa Subway Station, but I would guess when they had enough people to return to Busan.

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OVERALL RATING: 8/10. This temple has so much to see in such a small area. It’s truly incredible from the small lotus ponds that greet you to the elevated main hall in the main courtyard. And when you thought that was all, all you have to do is climb another set of stairs to see the famous San shin-gak, the temple’s pond, and the yellow spires that almost look like a mini-golf course.  Sowonsa  Temple truly has something for everyone.

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The numerous shrines, bridges, and lotus ponds that greet you at the temple.
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The main hall with the eleven tier pagoda to the right.
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Just one of the nicely painted murals that depicts the birth of the Buddha from the Palsang-do murals around the main hall.
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A look inside the main hall. Sitting in the middle is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s flanked by Moonsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power).
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The rare statue of Dongjin-bosal (The Bodhisattva that Protects the Buddha’s Teachings) that sits in front of the temple’s guardian painting.
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A better look at the amazing temple pagoda and courtyard that houses it.
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And the two story building that sits to the far right of the main hall houses this multi-armed Gwanseeum-bosal statue and hundreds of small and larger sized statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
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On the first floor of the same structure is a Buddhist funeral home. In the larger sized rooms, like this one, are larger sized statues of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).
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The self-aggrandizing sign that leads up to the San shin-gak.
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One of the bronze guardian statues that guards your way as you make your way up to the San shin-gak area.
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The long set of metal stairs that leads up to the San shin-gak shrine hall.
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The paper-tied wishes of the hopeful.
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A look at the altar inside the San shin-gak shrine hall cave.
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And a look at the empty cave, with only lighted candles on its altar, that runs to the left of the main San shin altar.
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The golden statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) that stands behind a man-made carp pond.
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A look over at the San shin-gak and Dokseong-gak from the temple’s pond area.
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After descending down an uneven and shaky set of stairs, you come to this mini-golf feel of an area at the temple.
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In one part of this area are these three golden spire huts. On top are statues of various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and inside are smaller paintings and statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, as well.
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Just one of the murals and statues inside of the golden spire huts.
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A couple rows of the Nahan (The Historical Buddhas Disciples) inside of a display case in the mini-golf looking area of the temple.
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And just before you leave, if you look left, you’ll see this amazing sight of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, lions, attendants, Biseon, and so much more. It’s the perfect way to finish your temple tour.

Haedong Seongchuisa Temple – 해동성취사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

 The beautiful neighbouring ocean as seen from Haedong Seongchuisa Temple in Gijang, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Having already visited a couple of other temple’s by the sea in Gijang like Haegwangsa Temple and the famous Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, I thought I would push my luck and see what Haedong Seongchuisa Temple had to offer. However, I think I might have stretched my luck with this temple.

When you first arrive at Haedong Seongchuisa Temple (해도성취사), you’ll be greeted by a beautiful view of the neighbouring ocean in front of you. While not right on the ocean, it has some beautiful views of the ocean from about a 200 metre distance.

The first thing to greet you is a rather interesting traditional drum shaped bathroom at the temple. Up the slight embankment, you’ll be greeted by the monks’ dorms to the right, as well as the bell pavilion that’s housed in the same cluster of buildings. Interestingly, and on top of the bell pavilion, is a stoic statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). He is holding a golden staff, and you can get some of the most impressive views of the neighbouring ocean from this vantage point.

Further up the embankment, and straight ahead, is the large sized two-storied main hall at Haedong Seongchuisa Temple. On the first floor, as is rather customary for smaller sized temples like this one, is the temple kitchen and visitors’ centre. As for the second floor, there are beautiful Palsang-do paintings around the exterior of the main hall. The artist that painted these murals is also the same artist that painted Guryongsa Temple in Busan and Garamsa Temple in Yangsan. He’s probably my favourite Palsang-do artist, and yet I’m not sure who he is. As for the interior of the main hall, it is rather simple in design and layout. On the main altar sits Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He is joined by Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha) on the right and Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) on the left. The interior of the hall is covered wall-to-wall by various smaller sized Buddha and Bodhisattva statues. On the far left wall is the guardian painting, and at the base of some of the walls are medium-sized statues like the statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) on the right wall with a swirling rainbow of colours at his back.

The more interesting features of the temple, however, lay outside of the main hall. To the left rear of the main hall is a golden statue of Gwanseeum-bosal. Even though this statue is rather cheap looking in composition and design, it is surrounded by some of the more impressive paintings of the twelve zodiac signs. They are painted by the very same artist that painted the Palsang-do paintings around the main hall.

To the right of the courtyard that houses this large golden Bodhisattva are two of the more interesting Sanshin-gaks and Yongwang-dangs I’ve seen in all of Korea. The shrine halls look like a bad looking make-shift army hall. It’s made out of plaster that’s been painted black and placed between two large shrubs. Inside the first shrine hall, the Sanshin-gak, is a large sized granite statue of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). He is backed by a beautifully rendered painting of himself. As for the second shrine hall, the Yongwang-dang, the first thing you’ll notice as you approach are two haunting golden eyes penetrating through the darkness. As you get a bit closer, you’ll realize that these set of eyes are coming from a statue of Yongwang (The Dragon King). In front of him trickles a small stream that flows into a shallow pond. To the left of Yongwang is a painting of Chilseong (The Seven Stars). And in front of this painting is a stone marker that suggests just how auspicious the land is where the temple sits.

HOW TO GET THERE: Get off at Gochon Subway Station, line 4, stop #413. You’ll need to walk out exit number 4. From there, go straight for about 5 to 10 minutes until you get to the bus station. Take bus #188. You’ll need to take this bus for 32 stops, or about one hour. Get off at the Onjeong bus stop and walk for about 7 minutes (400 metres) to get to Haedong Seongchuisa Temple.


크게 보기

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. I have to admit, after seeing a few pictures online, I was expecting a bit more from this temple. However, the nearness to the neighbouring ocean, the traditional drum bathroom, and the military black plaster Sanshin-gak and Yongwang-dang are definitely the highlights to this temple.

A pretty nice view from the temple parking lot.
The highly original Korean traditional drum design for the temple bathroom.
The walk up to Haedong Seongchuisa Temple.
The stoic Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) that sits on top of the bell pavilion.
The jovial Podae-hwasang that sits to your left as you enter the temple courtyard.
The two storied main hall at the temple.
Just one of the highly artistic Palsang-do paintings that adorns the exterior walls of the main hall.
A look inside the main hall at the altar.
The Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right of the main altar with a rainbow of colours at her back.
The large golden Gwanseeum-bosal statue to the rear of the main hall.
Just one of the amazing zodiac murals at the base of the Gwanseeum-bosal statue.
The view from the Gwanseeum-bosal statue with the main hall to the left and the ocean expansively ahead.
And finally, the military looking black plaster Sanshin-gak.
The multi-tigered Sanshin painting.
The amazingly decorative Nathwi that lies between the Sanshin-gak and the Yongwang-dang shrine halls.
A look at the Yongwang-dang shrine hall.
Inside the Yongwang-dang shrine hall is a statue of Yongwang (The Dragon King) to the right and a Chilseong (Seven Stars) mural to the left.
And a closer look at the eerie golden eyes of Yongwang that greet you to his shrine hall.

Geumsansa Temple – 금산사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

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A massive, and hollow, Amita-bul statue that lies inside the main hall at Geumsansa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

While out in Gijang doing the Yangsan Winter English Camp, I decided to do a bit of sightseeing during the numerous three hour breaks. And one of those sightseeing tours brought me to Geumsansa Temple. While not as amazing as I was anticipating, it certainly had a few surprises.

Geumsansa Temple, in English, literally means Golden Mountain Temple. You’ll first approach Geumsansa Temple down a one lane country road that takes a few twists and turns along the way. When you finally do arrive, you’ll see a compact temple courtyard. Immediately to your left is the visitors’ centre. Continue straight, and you’ll see the very busy temple courtyard. In front of the main hall are numerous statues, including a beautiful pink stoned twin fish statue. Unfortunately, the front of the main hall is covered in an ugly Plexiglas set-up. To the right of the main hall are the monks’ dorms, the monks’ prayer hall, and the temple kitchen. To the left of the main hall is a very rustic-looking wooden fish gong pavilion with an equally rustic fish gong. The gong is half log and half fish. To the side of the wooden fish gong pavilion are two ornately designed dragon sculptures. Additionally, there are two uniquely designed turtles that you can place coins on their back that are placed below the wooden fish gong.

As for the exterior of the main hall, other than the ugly Plexiglas shelter out in front, it is largely unadorned. Now, as for the interior of the main hall, I’m not too sure how to explain it. To say that the interior was a surprise is a gross understatement. When you first step inside the main hall, there’s a massive Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) statue laying on his side. This massive Amita-bul statue takes up nearly the entire interior of the main hall. In front of Amita-bul are various Nahan (the disciples of the Historical Buddha) statues, as well as a large sized white-clad Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) laying on her side, as well. At the feet of Amita-bul are a set of wooden stairs that lead up inside the lying statue. Inside Amita-bul are various wooden sculptures and golden statues. At the entrance are the four Cheonwang guardians. On the left wall are various seated statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, while on the right are wooden carved murals depicting various religious figures and scenes. And straight ahead are a triad of standing Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, which is centred by Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Light).

Out the back exit, near the head of the massive Amita-bul statue, you’ll be surrounded by walls of various Buddha and Bodhisattva statues that people can pay a fee of a million won to have their names attached to a statue to be prayed over by the temple’s monks. Surprisingly, this is more than it costs at the famous Beopjusa Temple.

After exiting out of the main hall, you can follow the sign next to the bell pavilion that leads you towards the Samseong-gak shrine hall. A forested path that leads through a bamboo grove leads you to the other side of the walled off temple compound. On the right side of the temple compound only the Samseong-gak shrine hall sits. The exterior of the hall is decorated with a painting of Dokseong (The Recluse) on the right side and a painting of San shin (The Mountain Spirit) to the left. Inside, once more, are the various Nahan statues. These statues sit below the three paintings of the shaman deities. Uniquely, there’s a painting of San shin in the centre, with a painting of Dokseong to the left, and Yongwang (The Dragon King) to the right. Absent is a painting of Chilseong that usually makes up the triad of deities inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall. All three paintings, while simplistic, are beautifully rendered, especially the painting of Yongwang.

HOW TO GET THERE: The least complicated way to get to Geumsansa Temple is to first go to Jangansa Temple by taking a city bus. This temple is rather difficult to get to by public transportation, but if you take City Bus #181 at Centum City Subway Station, Haeundae Subway Station, or Bexco, you’ll be able to catch a connecting bus to Jangansa Temple. From City Bus #181, get off at Gijang Sijang Station. From here, board the Town Bus #9 called the Maeul Bus. This bus will drop you off on your first leg of your journey: Jangansa Temple. From Jangansa Temple you can either walk the 6 km distance between the temples (which I don’t recommend) or you can catch a taxi that will cost you about 5,000 won to Geumsansa Temple from Jangansa Temple.

View 금산사 in a larger map

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. The highlight of this temple, by far, is the massively laying Amita-bul statue inside the main hall at Geumsansa Temple. And while the exterior is inspiring, the interior is awe-inspiring. Other than this massive golden statue, the other highlights of the temple are the wooden fish gong, the bamboo grove, as well as the Nahan statues inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall and the painting of Yongwang. If you’re visiting the neighbouring, and much larger, Jangansa Temple, Geumsansa Temple makes a nice little addition to your temple adventures.

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The entrance that leads up to Geumsansa Temple.
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The not so outwardly attractive main hall that has numerous stone statues in front of the Plexiglass shelter.
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The twin fish statue in front of the main hall.
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A look inside the wooden fish gong pavilion at Geumsansa Temple.
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And a better look at the highly original wooden fish gong inside the bell pavilion.
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Finally, a look at the lying Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) inside the main hall. In front are the 16 beautifully rendered Nahan (Disciples of the Historical Buddha) statues.
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A better look at the face of Amita-bul.
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And below the belly of Amita-bul is Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).
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A look inside the Amita-bul statue. It truly is amazingly adorned.
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A look at just one of the cartoonish looking Cheonwang (Heavenly Kings) that stands at the entrance of the lying Amita-bul statue.
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At the end of the inner hall is a triad of statues with Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Light) in the middle.
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The golden interior behind Amita-bul. There are literally hundreds of Buddhist statues with Korean names attached to them.
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The stairs that lead to a trail that skirts the outside of the temple grounds.
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A look at the main hall from the temple’s woods.
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Probably my favourite picture from the set. This one is the path that leads through a bamboo forest and onto the Samseong-gak shrine hall.
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A look at the exterior of the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.
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A look upon the altar inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall at Geumsansa Temple.
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Just one of the smiling Nahan that surround the main altar.
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The Lonely Saint, Dokseong (The Recluse).
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And a look at Yongwang (The Dragon King) that also rests on the main altar inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

Jangansa Temple – 장안사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

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The golden Amita-bul laying on a main altar at Jangansa Temple in Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Again, being out in the Gijang area of Busan, I decided to visit Jangansa Temple, a temple I had long wanted to visit ever since 2003, with my in-laws. Fortunately, during my winter vacation, I was able to visit Jangansa Temple.

Jangansa Temple dates back to as early as the reign of King Munmu in 673. Jangansa Temple was founded by the legendary monk, Wonhyo-daesa. Originally, the temple was called Ssangyesa Temple, but it was later changed by King Chungjang sometime around 1350. In 1592, much like the rest of Korea, Jangansa Temple was burned to the ground by the invading Japanese. It was later rebuilt in 1638 by the great priest Tae Ur. It was later restored in 1654, and recoloured in 1975.

As you approach the large-sized parking lot, and cross a wooden bridge, you’ll stand in front of a beautiful two-storied front gate that also acts as a bell pavilion on the second level. To the left of the entrance gate is a stoic statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Uniquely, as you pass through the entrance gate at the temple, you’ll notice that the Four Heavenly Kings that protect the temple aren’t statues, nor are they even paintings; but instead, there are four bronze plaques of the Cheonwang.

Having passed through the Cheonwangmun Gate, you’ll enter into the large temple courtyard. To your immediate right is a gorgeous golden statue of what looks to be Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) in a small shrine. And to your immediate right is a fat dharma statue sitting above a stone pond of water. Straight ahead is the squarely shaped main hall. The exterior of this main hall is distinctively adorned with 15 Shim-u-do paintings. This is distinct because the Shim-u-do, Ox-Herding murals, usually only consist of ten. There are also some very beautiful murals of children monk playing much like at Samyeongam Hermitage. The interior of the main hall is gorgeously decorated with some older looking murals. Sitting on the main altar is the triad of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) in the centre, he’s flanked by Yaksayeorae-bul (The Buddha of Medicine) on the right and Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) on the left. On the far right wall, as you enter the main hall, you’ll notice two beautiful murals. The one on the left is a painting of Chilseong (The Seven Stars) and the one on the right is the guardian painting. On the far left wall is a gorgeously painted, perhaps one of the best in all of Korea, of Yongwang (The Dragon King). Next to this painting is a highly original painting of Jijang-bosal holding a baby in his arms. This is definitely a first for me.

Outside, to the right of the main hall, is the San shin-gak shrine hall dedicated to San shin (The Mountain Spirit). Inside this hall is an older looking wood carving dedicated to San shin. The exterior of this hall is decorated with some interestingly designed, and disproportionately painted, Biseon. And still to the right of the main hall, and in front of the San shin-gak, is a compactly designed Nahan-jeon shrine hall dedicated to the disciples of Seokgamoni-bul. The exterior of this hall is decorated with the standard paintings of the Nahan in various poses; however, the inside of the hall is rather interesting, especially the main altar. Sitting on the main altar are three white statues of three various Buddha and Bodhisattvas. Sitting in the centre is Seokgamoni-bul (which represents the present). Sitting to his right is Mireuk-bosal (The Future Buddha), and on the left is Jaehwagalra-bosal (The Past Buddha). Flanking this triad on either side of the three are the sixteen Nahan.

To the left of the main hall is the Myeongbu-jeon shrine hall dedicated to Jijang-bosal and the dead. This hall, much like the San shin-gak, is adorned with some uniquely disproportionate Biseon. However, inside, the hall is gorgeous designed. Sitting on the main hall is a white clad Jijang-bosal. Flanking Jijang-bosal on either side are the Ten Kings of the Underworld. They are all seated and accompanied by some assistants.

Behind this hall, and perhaps one of Jangansa Temple’s most beautiful halls, is a hall dedicated to Amita-bul and the Western Paradise that he represents. Inside, the hall is a golden hue with a statue of Amita-bul lying down on the main altar. He’s flanked by two regal looking Bodhisattvas. Behind you, as you face the altar, are large paintings of the Nahan.

HOW TO GET THERE: The least complicated way to get to this temple is to take a city bus. This temple is rather difficult to get to by public transportation, but if you take City Bus #181 at Centum City Subway Station, Haeundae Subway Station, or Bexco, you’ll be able to catch a connecting bus to Jangansa Temple. From City Bus #181, get off at Gijang Sijang Station. From here, board the Town Bus #9 called the Maeul Bus. From this bus you’ll be able to arrive at the beautiful Jangansa Temple.

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OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. I was actually quite surprised at how good this temple was. I wasn’t expecting much, and was pleased that this temple had a lot to offer. The bronze Cheonwang, as well as the golden Gwanseeum-bosal are definitely a highlight to Jangansa Temple. A couple other highlights are the Yongwang portrait as well as the lying Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). If you’re in the area, and looking for a temple to see in Gijang, Jangansa Temple is definitely one to experience.

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The bridge you cross as you near the main entrance of Jangansa Temple.
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A look through the multi-purpose main entrance.
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A look out at the neighbouring mountain from the entrance at Jangansa Temple.
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A look at just Damun Cheonwang, who is one of the Cheonwang (Heavenly Kings) inside the Cheonwangmun Gate.
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The altar with a golden statue inside.
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And upon closer inspection it appears to be Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).
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A look at the courtyard and main hall at Jangansa Temple.
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One of the highly original Shimu-do murals that adorns the main hall.
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A look at the main altar inside the main hall at the triad of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) in the centre, he’s flanked by Yaksayeorae-bul (The Buddha of Medicine) on the right and Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) on the left.
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The guardian painting to the right of the main altar.
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And a look at one of the more stylized paintings of Yongwang (The Dragon King) to the left of the main altar.
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The highly original painting of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) that hangs to the left of the Yongwang painting.
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The San shin-gak shrine hall to the right rear of the main hall.
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A look at the San shin (The Mountain Spirit) wood carving that rests upon the altar inside the San shin-gak shrine hall at Jangansa Temple.
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Next to the San shin-gak shrine hall is the Nahan-jeon with a white clad Seokgamoni-bul in the centre of the past and future Bodhisattvas: Jaehwagaltra-bosal and Mireuk-bosal. And this triad is flanked by 16 Nahan (The Disciples of the Buddha) statues.
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To the left of the main hall is the Myeongbu-jeon shrine hall with a white-clad statue of Jijang-bosal on the altar. He’s flanked by the 10 Kings of the Underworld.
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Just five of the 10 Kings of the Underworld that flank Jijang-bosal to the left.
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A look past the Myeongbu-jeon shrine hall at the hall dedicated to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).
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And a look inside the golden shrine hall with Amita-bul lying on the main altar.