Jangchunsa Temple – 장춘사 (Haman, Gyeongsangnam-do)

CSC_1857

 The Yaksa-jeon at Jangchunsa Temple in Haman, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located up in the mountains of Mt. Mureungsa, in Haman, Gyeongsangnam-do, is Jangchunsa Temple. Jangchunsa Temple was first constructed in 832 A.D. by State Priest Muyeum-guksa. King Heungdeok was rewarding Muyeum for repulsing the Japanese invaders using some sort of mysterious powers to throw off their eastern neighbours.

You first approach the temple up a long mountainous road, until eventually you reach the compact temple grounds. Slightly to the left, and through a low-hanging gate, lies the temple’s main courtyard. Standing in the centre of the temple courtyard is a slender five-tier stone pagoda. All around the pagoda are the temple facilities for the monks like the kitchen, dorms, and visitors’ centre.

Behind the five-tier pagoda is Jangchunsa Temple’s main hall. Rebuilt in 1979, the main hall’s exterior walls are decorated with simple, yet elegant, Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, are a triad of white statues centred by 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 right of the main hall hangs a painting dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife), as well as a mural dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). To the left of the main altar, and probably the most masterful painting of the lot, is the older-looking guardian mural. Unfortunately, while I was invited in to pray by two Korean women, they didn’t allow me to take pictures (which I completely respect, as they were praying).

To the right of the main hall is probably the smallest Yongwang-dang shrine hall I have yet to see in Korea. Housed inside the shrine is a framed mural dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King); while the exterior walls are painted with two separate dragon murals, as well as a flaming pearl. To the left of the main hall is the Josa-jeon Hall, which is dedicated to past monks that formerly called Jangchunsa Temple home.

Through a corridor between buildings, and up a set of stairs, you’ll come to the two final shrine halls that visitors can explore at Jangchunsa Temple. The first is the Yaksa-jeon, which houses a rather campy golden statue dedicated to Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). While you wouldn’t realize it when you first look at the stone statue covered in gold paint, the statue of Yaksayore-bul actually dates back to the late Unified Silla Dynasty or the early Goryeo Dynasty. The exterior walls to this diminutive hall are adorned with murals that are dedicated to the life cycle.

A little further along the ridge-line, and you’ll come to the equally small Sanshin-gak. Careful when entering this hall, because the ceiling is extremely low. Housed inside this hall is a beautiful mural dedicated to the Mountain Spirit, Sanshin. It’s also from this vantage point that you get a beautiful look down the valley and down towards the city of Haman.

HOW TO GET THERE: Because Jangchunsa Temple is rather remote, the only way to get to the temple from the Haman Bus Terminal is by car. You can drive your own car, if you have one. The drive should take about 35 minutes. Or if you don’t have your own car, you can take a taxi from the bus terminal. The ride should cost about 35,000 won, one way.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed by Jangchunsa Temple. Usually, if I’m going to travel over an hour to see a temple, I expect a little more. Unfortunately, between its rather small size and the underwhelming golden statue of Yaksayore-bul, this temple didn’t completely deliver. With that said, the interior to the main hall, with its unique statues and paintings, as well as the masterful Sanshin mural are nice in their own right. So if you’re in the area, and you want to do something on a weekend, perhaps Jangchunsa Temple could be an option; however, the neighbouring Neunggasa Temple is the better option of the two.

CSC_1831

The temple as you approach.

CSC_1833

The entry gate to the temple courtyard.

CSC_1835

One of the fierce guardians adorning the temple gate.

CSC_1836

A look up towards the temple’s main hall.

CSC_1839

The extremely compact Yongwang-dang.

CSC_1841

One of the beautiful paintings adorning the Yongwang-dang.

DSC_1731

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

CSC_1869

The corridor that leads past the Josa-jeon and up towards the upper courtyard.

CSC_1848

The stone stairs that lead the way with the Yaksa-jeon in sight.

CSC_1853

One of the life-cycle paintings adorning the Yaksa-jeon.

CSC_1850

The one thousand year old, golden Yaksayore-bul.

CSC_1856

The neighbouring Sanshin-gak.

CSC_1860

With a look inside at the mural dedicated to Sanshin.

CSC_1858

And the beautiful view from the Sanshin-gak.

Neunggasa Temple – 능가사 (Haman, Gyeongsangnam-do)

CSC_1882

 The amazing riverside view of Neunggasa Temple in Haman, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

On the southern banks of the Nakdong River is the scenically located Neunggasa Temple in Haman, Gyeongsangnam-do. As you first approach the temple from the temple’s parking lot, you’ll notice a large granite statue dedicated to Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). This shrine area is fronted by equally beautiful stone lanterns, as well as a recently constructed stupa.

A sharp left from this ten metre tall statue is the temple’s main courtyard. To your left is the recently built bell pavilion. Straight ahead, and elevated over top the temple’s visitors’ centre, kitchen, and monks dorms, is the temple’s main hall. The main hall is beautifully decorated with Palsang-do murals that adorn the hall’s exterior walls. Stepping inside the rather spacious main hall are a triad of statues that sit on the main altar. Sitting in the centre is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha), who is joined to the left and right by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). Hanging on the walls are a collection of masterful murals. To the immediate left is a mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Hanging to the right, and by the same artist, are two murals. One of these murals is dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars), while the other is the rather long guardian mural.

To the right of the main hall is the Gwaneeum-jeon. The exterior walls to this hall are decorated with various murals dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Most memorable of the lot is the painting of two parents praying for the loss of their child. Seated inside this hall, and all alone on the main altar, is Gwanseeum-bosal. To the left of the main altar hang two older, and unique, shaman murals. The first is dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), while the other pays homage to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). To the right of the main altar hangs an equally older looking mural, no less original in composition, dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King), who appears to be surrounded by protective spirits.

But perhaps the most striking feature to Neunggasa Temple is its amazing location. Rarely will you find a temple located next to a river. Of course there are exceptions like Oeosa Temple, but these are the exceptions, and not the rule. Stepping outside the temple grounds, and hanging a left, you can make your way across a blue pedestrian bridge that you can enjoy some amazing views of both the Nakdong River at one of its wider berths, as well as the crowning Neunggasa Temple on the neighbouring hillside.

HOW TO GET THERE: You’ll first need to make your way to the Changwon Intercity Bus Terminal. From this terminal, you’ll need to take either Bus #705 or #707 and get off at the Masan Post Office stop. From there, you’ll need to board Bus #113-1 and get off at the Namji Bus Terminal. From this terminal, take a taxi the rest of the way to Neunggasa Temple. The fare should be about 4,400 won and the ride should last about seven minutes.

OVERALL RATING: 7/10. Neunggasa Temple is one of the most beautifully located temples you’ll find in Korea. With the commanding view of the neighbouring Nakdong River, it’s a bit of a surprise that Neunggasa Temple isn’t better known. With that being said, and as a compliment to all its natural beauty, the shrine halls, shaman paintings, and the towering Yaksayore-bul statue can only help elevate the temple’s little known reputation. While the city of Haman isn’t that well known for its temples, Neunggasa Temple definitely takes a bit of a bite out of that reputation.

CSC_1877

Yaksayore-bul that welcomes you to Neunggasa Temple.

CSC_1831

The temple courtyard.

CSC_1834

The Gwaneum-jeon at Neunggasa Temple

CSC_1865

The consoling Gwanseeum-bosal.

CSC_1838

The main altar inside the Gwaneum-jeon.

CSC_1836

The older-looking Sanshin mural in the Gwaneum-jeon.

CSC_1840

As well as Yongwang inside the Gwaneum-jeon.

CSC_1847

A look towards the main hall at Neunggasa Temple.

CSC_1859

One of the Palsang-do murals.

CSC_1856

A look inside the main hall.

CSC_1870

The neighbouring bridge that allows for some amazing views.

CSC_1881a

A picturesque view of the temple-by-the-river.

CSC_1888

 And a view of the neighbouring Nakdong River.