The Story Of…Tongdosa Temple


The famed Geumgang Gyedan Altar with the lotus shaped stone that houses the Buddhas partial remains behind the main hall at Tongdosa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

I’m often asked what my favourite temple in all of Korea is, which makes sense because I run a website on Korean temples. For me, the answer is quite simple: Tongdosa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do. There are so many reasons why Tongdosa Temple is my favourite temple in Korea; so many of those reasons revolve around fond memories.

One of those memories is that it was the second temple I ever visited in Korea (the first being Bulguksa Temple). I went with friends from the very first school I ever worked at. Most of those people are still my friends to this day. I’ve also brought a lot of new friends I’ve met through the years to this temple just because it has so much to offer a first time visitor. But perhaps one of my greatest friendships came from a novice Czech monk that was training at Tongdosa Temple not too long ago.

Another reason is that it’s the first temple I brought my mom to when she came to Korea for the first time in 2004. Like me, I wanted her time here to mirror some of the adventures and joys in my life while staying in Korea. And there was no better representation of these feelings than Tongdosa Temple.


The stunning main hall at Tongdosa Temple.

But perhaps the greatest reason I love Tongdosa Temple so much is that it’s the first place I went on a date with my wife. We fumbled around our feelings, as we wandered around the temple grounds and museum, while figuring out just what we felt for the other. So what better reason do you need to love a place than it being the place where you dated your future wife?

As you can tell, I have so many reasons why Tongdosa Temple is my favourite temple in all of Korea. But outside of friendships, family, and a beautiful wife, the temple is a pretty awesome place to visit, especially when you consider it houses the partial remains of the Buddha.

For more on Tongdosa Temple.


A colourful look at the amazing Tongdosa Temple.

The Story of…Jajangam Hermitage

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The painting at Jajangam Hermitage, near Tongdosa Temple, of Jajang-yulsa and the golden frog.

Hello Again Everyone!!

I first went to Jajangam Hermitage back in 2004, and it was one of the first hermitages I visited directly associated with Tongdosa Temple. Ever since then, I’ve regularly visited this hermitage throughout the years.

With only a handful of hermitage buildings, Jajangam Hermitage isn’t the largest you’ll find; however, it is purportedly the staging ground where the monk, Jajang-yulsa, planned and created the famed Tongdosa Temple.

However, the most curious part of the hermitage is the golden frog that takes up residence behind the main hall at Jajangam Hermitage. So the story goes, that during the creation of Tongdosa Temple, there were numerous golden frogs around Jajangam Hermitage. As Jajang was washing his rice, the frogs were muddying the water. So twice, he removed the frogs and twice they returned. Upon closer inspection, he realized that the frogs were golden and were an auspicious sign. So when winter came, he created a home for the frogs at the hermitage by driving a finger into solid rock. This very hole, which is called the Geumwangong, is where a golden frog now takes up residence at Jajangam Hermitage.


The white arrow pointing to the pinprick of a hole where the golden frog sometimes takes up residence at Jajangam Hermitage.

However, this golden frog is pretty elusive. It’s believed that only the most devout Buddhist can see this golden frog. I’ve been to the hermitage a countless amount of times, and it was only recently, on a field trip with teachers at my school, that I finally saw one.

As I approached the hole, and I was the first, I looked in very carefully. At first, I couldn’t see a thing. But looking a little closer, I could see in the darkness these tiny little eyes looking back at me. A few more teachers attempted to see what I had seen, but only one other saw it.

While we were leaving, the head monk at the hermitage asked me if I had visited the golden frog. I said I had. He seemed a bit surprised, almost as though it wasn’t true. Quickly, he made a b-line for the Geumwangong from the courtyard. Not long after, he came back. The Korean teachers that were with me asked him if he had seen the golden frog; but from his face, I could tell that he hadn’t.

Sometimes, real life is stranger than fiction.

To learn more about Jajangam Hermitage, please follow the link.

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The temple courtyard and main hall in the background at Jajangam Hermitage.