Myeongjeokam Hermitage – 명적암 (Gimcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The view from the main hall at Myeongjeokam Hermitage near Jikjisa Temple in Gimcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

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Myeongjeokam Hermitage is directly associated with the famed Jikjisa Temple in Gimcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do. In fact, the hermitage is situated just west of the famed Jikjisa Temple by about 400 metres.

To get to Myeongjeokam Hermitage, you’ll follow one of several hermitage roads until it breaks off. Finally, you’ll find a path that is shaded by rows of mature trees. And eventually, a crowning two story pavilion will appear. This is the first indication that you’re nearing the hermitage.

Up a set of a few dozen stairs, and under the pavilion that also acts as the hermitage’s entry gate, you’ll finally find yourself squarely in the centre of Myeongjeokam Hermitage’s main courtyard. Straight ahead is a squat three tier stone pagoda. It almost looks as though someone took a giant hand and pressed down on the top of it. Out in front of this pagoda is a Bodhisattva, reminiscent of the one at Woljeongsa Temple, that is praying to the pagoda with a flower in hand. And rounding out this set, on the west end, are two additional stone lanterns.

The only building that a visitor can explore at Myeongjeokam Hermitage is the main hall, which lies just beyond the beautiful stone Bodhisattva. Entering the rather long main hall, you’ll notice a main altar that’s comprised of five statues. In the centre sits Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy).

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Myeongjeokam Hermitage, you’ll first need to get to Jikjisa Temple. And to get to Jikjisa Temple, you’ll first need to get to the Gimcheon train station. When you arrive at the Gimcheon train station, you can catch local buses #11, #111, or #112 from the intercity bus terminal that is right next to the train station parking lot. The bus ride is 1,300 won and lasts about 10 to 20 minutes. You can also take a taxi from just out in front of the train station, as well. If you’re travelling in a group, this may be an easier way to go, as the ride costs about 7,000 to 10,000 won. The bus will drop you off at the bus stop which is a nice 15 minute walk to Jikjisa Temple. From Jikjisa Temple, you’ll need to continue west. The hermitage signs along the way should do the rest.

OVERALL RATING: 3/10. Myeongjeokam Hermitage has a beautiful view of the valley down below where Jikjisa Temple is situated. Also, the stone Bodhisattva that prays next to the stout pagoda is another highlight to this little hermitage west of the famed Jikjisa Temple.

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The long walk up towards the hermitage grounds.

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The two story pavilion that welcomes you to Myeongjeokam Hermitage.

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The pavilion also acts as an entry gate.

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The view from the hermitage’s pavilion.

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The compact pagoda with a stone Bodhisattva praying out in front of it.

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A closer look at the flower holding Bodhisattva.

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One last look at the pagoda with the pavilion in the background.

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Myeongjeokam Hermitage’s courtyard.

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The main hall at Myeongjeokam Hermitage.

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The entry to the hermitage’s main hall.

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The main altar inside the main hall.

Now and Then: Jikjisa Temple

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An aerial shot of Jikjisa Temple from the last century.

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Jikjisa Temple in Gimcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do, was first founded in 418 A.D, and it’s believed to be one of the oldest temples on the Korean peninsula. It’s believed to have been established by the venerable monk, Ado. In fact, one of the meanings behind the temple’s name has to do with Ado. The name “Jikji,” in English, means “pointing directly,” which is in reference to Ado when he pointed at a perfect spot to locate a future temple that turned out to be Jikjisa Temple. Another meaning behind the temple’s name is that it refers to a Seon expression where one is “pointing directly to the Original Mind.” One final meaning behind the temple’s name is that during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), temples weren’t built by using rulers; instead, they were measured by hand. In English, “Ji” means “finger.”

Monk Ado, a Goguryeo monk, is legendary in his own right. It’s believed that he was the first missionary monk to introduce Buddhism to the shamanic Silla Kingdom, which formally accepted Buddhism in 527. Originally much smaller in size when it was first established, Master Jajang-yulsa further expanded the temple to some forty buildings in 645 A.D. Jikjisa Temple enjoyed a further renaissance with major renovations in the 10th century under the geomantic recommendations of Master Doseon-guksa.

Like so many other famous temples throughout the Korean peninsula, Jikjisa Temple faced almost complete destruction during the Imjin War in 1592. Ten years later, in 1602, some twenty buildings were rebuilt. Jikjisa Temple faced repeated destruction by fires throughout the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), as well as further damage caused by fighting during the Korean War (1950-53). It wasn’t until 1966, with governmental support, that the temple was finally rebuilt to its former glory by 1981.

Today, Jikjisa Temple is the 8th regional headquarters for the Jogye-jong sect, which is the largest Buddhist Order in all of Korea. It was also the first temple to participate in the Temple Stay program in 2002. The temple continues to provide the Temple Stay program to any and all guests. In total, the temple houses a National Treasure and ten additional Treasures. The one National Treasure it does house, National Treasure #208, is the Gilt-bronze Sarira Reliquary from Sakyamuni Stupa of Dorisa Temple.

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Another aerial shot.

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A shot of the Mansye-ru Pavilion.

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A look towards the temple’s main hall.

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 A look towards the Biro-jeon Hall.

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Another temple hall.

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A picture from what looks to be Buddha’s birthday.

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And one more look at Jikjisa Temple in all its splendour.

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A look towards the Mansye-ru Pavilion, today, through the Cheonwangmun Gate.

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

Temple Stay: Jikjisa Temple (Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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 The main hall at Jikjisa Temple.

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Introduction to the Temple:

Jikjisa Temple (“Direct Indicator Temple”) was first established in 418 by the monk, Ado. It’s one of the oldest temples in all of Korea. In addition to its age, Jikjisa Temple is beautifully situated amongst the pines on Mt. Hwangaksan. Besides its age and beauty, the other highlights to this temple are the vast amount of halls that you can visit. The most unique and beautiful aspect is probably the hall that houses 1,000 tiny white Buddha statues. Also, the museum is well worth a look.

The Temple Stay program at Jikjisa Temple focuses on nature. Also, a Dharma talk and the 108 bowing ceremony allow for a better understanding of Korean Buddhism.

For more information on Jikjisa Temple.

(Courtesy of the Jikjisa Temple Stay program website)

Directions:

From Seoul, and if you want to take the bus, you should first take subway line # 2 to the Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, and get a bus for Gimcheon (3 hours). From Gimcheon you can take a local bus to Jikjisa Temple (25 minutes).

And if you want to go to Jikjisa Temple by train from Seoul, you should first take subway lines # 1 or # 4 to Seoul Station. By KTX, it’ll take about two hours. And by slow train, “Mugunghwa”, it takes about three and a half hours. From Gimcheon Station, take a local bus, either  #11 or #111, directly to Jikjisa Temple (25 minutes).

However, if you’re leaving from Busan, you can catch a KTX train to Gimcheon from the Hwamyeong Train Station. The train to Gimcheon is about 15,000 won, and it takes about an hour.  Once you’ve arrived at the Gimcheon train station, you can catch local buses #11, #111, or #112 from the intercity bus terminal that is just right of the train station parking lot. The bus ride is 1,300 won and lasts about 10 minutes. You can also take a taxi from just out in front of the train station, as well. If you’re travelling in a group, this may be an easier way, as the ride costs about 7,000 to 10,000 won. The bus will drop you off at the bus stop which is a nice 15 minute walk to Jikjisa Temple.

General Schedule:

There are two regular Temple Stay schedules that Jikjisa Temple provides at their temple. The first is the Regular Schedule (Looking into My Mind Straightly), while the other is the Relaxation Schedule, which has no set schedule.

A: Regular Schedule (Looking into My Mind Straightly):

Day 1:

15:00 – Opening Ceremony

16:00 – Orientation

17:00 – Dinner

18:00 – Evening Worship

19:00 – A Conversation with a Monk

20:00 – Bedtime

 

Day 2:

3:00 – Wake-up Time

3:30 – Morning Worship

4:30 – Listening to Nature

5:30 – A Walk in Nature

6:00 – Breakfast

7:30 – 108 Bowing Ceremony

9:00 – Various Activities

11:00 – Lunch

12:00 – Barefoot Nature Hike

1:00 – Departure

 

(Courtesy of the Jikjisa Temple Stay program website)

Jikjisa Temple Information:

Address : 216, Unsu-ri, Daehang-myeon Gimcheon-si Gyeongsangbuk-do
Tel : +82-54-429-1716 / Fax : +82-54-436-3174
homepage : http://www.jikjisa.or.kr
E-mail : jikjisa@templestay.com

Fees:

Adults: 70,000 won; Teens: 30,000 won; Under 13: 0 won (Regular Schedule)

Adults: 50,000 won; Teens: 30,000 won; Under 13: 0 won (Relaxation Schedule)

Link:

Reservations for the Regular Schedule at Jikjisa Temple

Reservations for the Relaxation Schedule at Jikjisa Temple

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 Inside the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas.

Video: Jikjisa Temple

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It had been five years since I last visited Jikjisa Temple in the summer of 2008. Wanting to go back for a while, I finally decided to go back this past weekend. Jikjisa Temple is one of the oldest temples in all of Korea, and it has a lot of natural and Buddhist beauty. So follow me as I explore not only one of the oldest temples in Korea, but also one of its most beautiful.

Updated: Jikjisa Temple – 직지사 (Gimcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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Inside the Biro-jeon Hall at Jikjisa Temple.

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Jikjisa Temple, which means “Direct Indicator Temple,” in English, sits at the base of Mt. Hwanaksan. Without a doubt, the temple is located in one of the most beautiful spots in all of Korea with quiet forests, rolling streams, and ancient ruins all around. As the legend goes, Jikjisa Temple was built in 418 C.E. The temple was built under the guidance of monk Ado; a monk who introduced Buddhism to the Silla Kingdom after visiting China long before it was accepted in the Silla Kingdom. After first seeing the location, he pointed to a spot on the mountain and said a large temple should be built at its base (hence “Direct Indicator Temple”). And during Taejo’s reign, the first king of the Goryeo Dynasty, the temple became the largest in all of East Asia. However, as part of the Imjin War from 1592 to 1598, numerous military monks from Jikjisa Temple rose up against the Japanese, and as reprisal, Jikjisa Temple was burnt to the ground. In 1610, Jikjisa Temple was rebuilt, and continued to be expanded upon until the 1980’s. Now, Jikjisa Temple is one of the eight largest temples in Korea and has five associated hermitages scattered throughout the mountainside.

You first approach the temple up a lush forest path. Along the way, you’ll see the elevated Iljumun Gate. Eventually, you’ll pass by the massive Mandeok-jeon conference hall to your left, but continue right towards the Geumgangmun Gate, which houses painted child-like incarnations of Bohyun-bosal and Munsu-bosal. Past the Geumgangmn Gate is the large Cheongwangmun Gate. Perhaps, this gate is one of the largest in Korea with its towering Four Heavenly Kings inside. Both the interior and exterior walls are beautifully painted with swirling dragons, floating Biseon, and pastoral paintings.

Just past this gate, and around the Mansye-ru Pavilion, you’ll climb a couple sets to be squarely situated in the main temple courtyard at Jikjisa Temple. Straight ahead is the Daeung-jeon main hall which dates back to 1649. Around its exterior walls are some chipped, but still vibrant, Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, is a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) and Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). These slender statues are backed by six metre tall murals that date back to 1744. Out in front of the main hall are a pair of three-tier stone pagodas that date back to the 9th century. They beautifully framed the main hall. Also, the Jong-gak, or bell pavilion, is housed just to the left of the western pagoda.

Just to the rear of the main hall is the Seongjwa-gak, which houses three shaman murals. All three, which are masterfully executed, are dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Chilseong (The Seven Stars), and Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

To the left of the main hall, and entering a forested area, you’ll next come to an all new collection of halls. The first to greet you is the Gwaneeum-jeon with a minimalized interior. The main altar, however, has an elegantly seated statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). To the left of this hall is the Eungjin-jeon, which houses the Historical Disciples of the Buddha in glass cases, as well as a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul. Out in front of this hall is the Samyeong-gak, which is dedicated to the warrior monk, Samyeong-daesa (1544-1610), who was the former abbot at the temple. Housed inside this hall is a beautiful painting dedicated to this amazing monk. And just slightly to the rear of this hall is the Myeongbu-jeon, which houses a green-haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). The statue of this Bodhisattva is matched by an equally stunning mural of Jijang-bosal. And the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife is joined on both sides by the Ten Kings of the Underworld. All four of these halls have amazing murals around each of their exteriors, so take the time and have a look.

There are two more halls to the west of these four halls. The rather understated Yaksa-jeon is situated just to the left of the temple’s museum (which is also worth a visit, if you have the time). Housed inside the Yaksa-jeon is a beautiful, golden statue dedicated to Yaksayore-bul. But it’s the Biro-jeon, or the Cheonbul-jeon, in the western courtyard, that truly stands out. This hall dates back to 1661. And housed inside this hall, alongside Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy) on the main altar, are a thousand white Buddha statues.

Admission to the temple is 2,500 won.

HOW TO GET THERE: When you arrive at the Gimcheon train station, you can catch local buses #11, #111, or #112 from the intercity bus terminal that is right next to the train station parking lot. The bus ride is 1,300 won and lasts about 10 to 20 minutes. You can also take a taxi from just out in front of the train station, as well. If you’re travelling in a group, this may be an easier way to go, as the ride costs about 7,000 to 10,000 won. The bus will drop you off at the bus stop which is a nice 15 minute walk to Jikjisa Temple.

OVERALL RATING: 9.5/10. There are very few drawbacks to visiting Jikjisa Temple. The only drawback is that it’s a bit difficult to get to. Other than this slight negative, Jikjisa Temple is enormous in size and artistic scope. The beautiful paintings are spell-binding, and the 1,000 white miniature Buddhas are amazing. With being the oldest (purported) temple in all of Korea, it is well worth a day trip out to see Jikjisa Temple.

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The Iljumun Gate at Jikjisa Temple.
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A look to the other gates that welcome you at the temple.
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The Mansye-ru Pavilion.
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The large Cheonwangmun Gate at the temple.
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Two of the Four Heavenly Kings inside the Cheonwangmun Gate.
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The main hall and ancient pagodas to the east and west of the Daeung-jeon.
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The triad of statues inside the main hall.
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Some of the artwork inside the main hall; this time, of Gwanseeum-bosal.
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Another piece of artwork inside the main hall.
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The Seongjwa-gak shaman shrine hall to the right rear of the main hall.
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A look at Sanshin inside the shaman shrine hall.
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The main temple courtyard.
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The well-hidden Gwaneum-jeon at Jikjisa Temple.
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A look inside the Eungjin-jeon.
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A look towards the Samyeong-gak.
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The beautiful mural of Samyeong inside the Samyeong-gak.
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Both the Myeongbu-jeon and Biro-jeon together.
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The main altar inside the Myeongbu-jeon with Jijang-bosal front and centre.
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Some of the artwork that adorns the halls at Jikjisa Temple. This particular painting commemorates the founding of Jikjisa Temple and monk Ado.
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Here is a winterscape of Jikjisa Temple.
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A look inside the Biro-jeon Hall with a thousand white Buddha statues.
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The western courtyard that houses several of the temple’s halls including the Yaksa-jeon.
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A look inside the Yaksa-jeon at the Medicine Buddha.