Eunsusa Temple – 은수사 (Jinan, Jeollabuk-do)

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 The beautiful scenery that surrounds Eunsusa Temple in Maisan Provincial Park.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Eunsusa Temple, which means “Silver Water Temple,” in English, is located just above Tapsa Temple on the ridge. The temple was first known as Sangwonsa Temple in the early Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). It later changed its name to Jeongmyeongam Hermitage. Finally, the temple changed its name to its present name, Eunsusa Temple, when King Taejo (the founder of the Joseon Dynasty) visited the temple. After he made the comment that the water flowing nearby was as clean and smooth as pure silver, the temple became known as Eunsusa Temple.

You first approach the temple up a short, paved path. Eunsusa Temple is situated under Sutmaibong Peak, which is better known as Elephant Rock, because it literally looks like an elephant. Finally, you’ll come to a clearing with the monks’ dorms to the right. Just behind the monks’ dorms is a shrine hall dedicated to Dangun Wanggeom, who was the legendary founder of Gojoseon (the first Korean Kingdom). The exterior walls to this hexagonal shrine hall are adorned with various shamanistic motifs like a sun and moon high in the sky above a red pine and four mountain peaks. Inside this hall, and adorning the ceiling to this hall, is a swirl of kaleidoscope colours. Below this ceiling are a collection of framed pictures. Straight ahead, and on the main altar, is a rather non-descript painting of Dangun. To the right is an all white-clad painting of Sanshin-dosa, who is often used as an icon for pass-spirits. On the left wall is a hierarchy of shaman deities.

Just up the embankment, and straight ahead, is Natural Monument #386, which is a collection of Cheongsil pear trees. They are thought to only grow at Eunsusa Temple on the entire Korean peninsula. Close to these pear trees is the temple’s bell pavilion. While completely underwhelming, it does house the largest wooden drum in Korea. It was made back in 1982 and is rather large in size.

Just behind these two features are a collection of temple halls. The first to the far left is the main hall at Eunsusa Temple. As you enter the main hall, you’ll notice a triad of smaller sized statues on the altar. In the centre sits Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). He’s joined to the left by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And to the right rests Nosana-bul (The Perfect Body Buddha). In the far left corner is a collection of statues which include various Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha), as well as Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). And on the far right wall is a guardian mural, as well as an older looking painting dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).

Next to this hall is the Geukrak-jeon hall. Inside this hall, and sitting on the main altar, are a triad of statues centred by Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined, as usual, in this type of hall by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). In the far left corner is an altar dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). He is joined by a large guardian mural.

The final shrine hall, and housed on the upper terrace, is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Besides it being one of the lowest ceilinged buildings I’ve been in at a Korean temple, it’s also rather unique, as well. As you enter this hall, and to your left, is an older looking guardian mural that will welcome you to this shaman shrine hall. On the main altar sits a statue of Sanshin-dosa, as well as a statue of Sanshin. These two figures are backed by a red robed, almost Dokseong-looking, mural of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). To the right of this collection are seven statues that represent Chilseong (The Seven Stars). These seven figures are backed by one of the larger murals dedicated to Chilseong that I’ve seen in Korea.

To the right of this hall, and back on the lower terrace, is an earthen shrine for shaman rituals. Just to the side of it is a large bronze statue of Yongwang (The Dragon King), as well as some silvery mountain water that pours into a granite fountain.

Admission to the temple, by way of Tapsa Temple, is 2,000 won. However, if you pay 3,000 won, you can see three temples: Tapsa Temple, Geumdangsa Temple, and Eunsusa Temple.

HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll need to get to Jinan Bus Terminal from wherever it is you live in Korea. From the bus terminal, you’ll need to take a bus bound for Maisan Provincial Park. These buses leave every 40 minutes and start at 7:30 in morning and run until 18:00. Once you’re dropped off at the entry to Maisan Provincial Park, you’ll need to walk up the path that leads to Tapsa Temple. Once at Tapsa Temple, after hiking the leisurely 1.5 kilometre trail, you’ll need to head up a steep set of stairs to the right of Tapsa Temple. Hike up this trail for 300 metres, and you’ll come to Eunsusa Temple.


크게 보기

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. In combination with Tapsa Temple and Geumdangsa Temple, Eunsusa Temple makes for a pretty amazing day trip. On its own, Eunsusa Temple has quite a few unique features like the shrine hall dedicated to Dangun and Sanshin-dosa. Also, there’s the pear trees that only grow around Eunsusa Temple in all of Korea. Finally, the red robed Sanshin painting, the seven wooden figures that symbolize Chilseong, the largest wooden drum in all of Korea, and the Elephant Rock backdrop allow Eunsusa Temple to stand out on its own.

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 The trail that leads up to Eunsusa Temple.

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 The temple halls as you first approach the temple grounds.

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The hexagonal shrine hall dedicated to Dangun.

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 A look inside at the colourful ceiling and the mural of Dangun, the founder of Korea.

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 The mural of Sanshin-dosa to the right of the main altar.

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 A closer look at Dangun.

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 The Geukrak-jeon hall beneath Elephant Rock.

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 A look inside the Geukrak-jeon at the main altar.

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 The guardian mural inside the Geukrak-jeon.

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 The shrine dedicated to Jijang-bosal inside the Geukrak-jeon.

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 The fish gong which hangs next to the largest drum in all of Korea (so they say).

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 The triad of statues inside the main hall.

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 The assortment of statues to the left of the main altar inside the main hall.

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 You’ll then have to pass by the Geukrak-jeon hall to get to the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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Finally, a look up at the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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 The red-robed image of Sanshin inside the Samseong-gak.

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 The mural and statues dedicated to Chilseong.

Geumdangsa Temple – 금당사 (Jinan, Jeollabuk-do)

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 The Goryeo-era pagoda and golden roofed main hall at Geumdangsa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Geumdangsa Temple, which means “Golden Hall Temple,” in English, was first built in 814 A.D. It’s well known as a place where the Goryeon monk, Naong-hwasang, practiced his form of Buddhism. In fact, if you look closely up in the mountains, you can find Naongam Hermitage, which is a secluded grotto where Naong once meditated. More recently, in 1894, General Jeon Bongjun’s daughter sought refuge at the temple. Gen. Jeon Bongjun led the anti-foreigner campaign, mainly against the Japanese, for the brutal punishment meted out to Korean farmers during the Donghak Peasant Revolution. Geumdangsa Temple also acted as a base for Korean guerrilla troops in the Jinan area during Japanese Colonial rule from 1910-1945.

When you first arrive at the temple, which is about a kilometer west of Tapsa Temple, you’ll first be greeted by the gift shop/visitors’ centre to the right. Just a little further along and there are a pair of mythical Haetae that bookend a set of stairs that leads into the main temple courtyard.

To the far left is a golden statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) behind a beautiful artificial pond. Just before you reach this pond, you’ll notice a large collection of stacked stones that travelers have left behind for good luck and a safe journey.

Just to the right of this golden statue and pond is an all-new, yet to be painted, hall dedicated to the historic Gwaebultang painting. In the centre of this large sized painting, which dates back to 1682, is a solemnly faced Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). This dominant figure in the painting is surrounded by twenty images of the Buddha in a multi-coloured fiery nimbus. In the past, the painting would be carted out and the monks would offer up prayers for rain during droughts. It is said to be one of the three most important historic murals in Korea alongside the ones at Tongdosa Temple and Muryangsa Temple. This painting is masterful in its execution.

Next to this hall, and to the right, is what looks to be the Yeongsan-jeon. The exterior walls to this hall are painted with the Palsang-do murals. As for the interior, and uniquely hanging on the main altar, are a triad of paintings. It’s unique because there are usually three statues and not just paintings. In the centre is a painting dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by two elaborate paintings of Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power) and Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power).

Just up the embankment, and to the right, is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Inside this hall are two newer paintings of Yongwang (The Dragon King) and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). These vibrant paintings flank the older looking mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). Strangely, between the main hall and this hall is a stone with an inscription on it with a large golden tiger crawling at the top of it.

The most unique hall at the temple is the golden roofed main hall. This newly built shrine hall has some rather crude Palsang-do murals surrounding the exterior walls. Inside the barren interior of the main hall sits a triad of statues on the main altar. The reason I say barren is that there is no large mural backing the triad of main altar statues. Sitting in the centre of the main altar is a statue of Seokgamoni-bul. He’s joined on either side by familiar company: Bohyun-bosal and Munsu-bosal. On the far right wall are a collection of wooden Nahan statues, as well as a guardian mural.

The final hall at the temple is the Myeongbu-jeon. Inside this all-natural exterior is a stately looking statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). He’s joined on either side by some extremely unique yellow based murals. The one to the left is a mural dedicated to the Dragon Ship of Wisdom, while the one to the right is dedicated to Jijang-bosal.

The final thing you can see out in front of the main hall is the smaller sized five-tier pagoda that dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty.

Admission to the temple, by way of Tapsa Temple, is 2,000 won. However, if you pay 3,000 won, you can see three temples: Tapsa Temple, Geumdangsa Temple, and Eunsusa Temple.

HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll need to get to Jinan Bus Terminal from wherever it is you live in Korea. From the bus terminal, you’ll need to take a bus bound for Maisan Provincial Park. These buses leave every 40 minutes and start at 7:30 in morning and run until 18:00. Once you’re dropped off at the entry to Maisan Provincial Park, you’ll need to walk up the path that leads to Tapsa Temple. A couple hundred metres up the path, and just beyond the restaurants and stores, you’ll see Geumdangsa Temple to your left. It only takes about 5 minutes from where the bus lets you off to get to this temple.


크게 보기

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. Surprisingly, for a smaller sized temple, there’s a fair bit to see at Geumdangsa Temple. The two main attractions are the large sized mural dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal, as well as the five-tier historic pagoda that dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty. Other highlights are the extremely unique murals inside the Myeongbu-jeon, the vibrant shaman murals inside the Samseong-gak, the tiger crawling stone monument, and the golden roofed main hall. It’s a nice little stop along the way, as you head up towards the much more famous Tapsa Temple.

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The beautiful sites that greet you at Geumdangsa Temple.

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The collection of stacked rocks left by travelers to the temple.

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The large golden statue of Mireuk-bul, which backs a beautiful artificial pond.

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The hall that houses the historic Gwaebultang painting.

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A look at the beauty of the amazing painting.

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An even better look at the face of Gwanseeum-bosal.

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To the right of the former hall is the Yeongsan-jeon hall.

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Just one of the Palsang-do murals that adorns the exterior walls to the Yeongsan-jeon hall.

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A unique look between the two halls to the left of the main hall.

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The murals, and not statues, that hang on the main altar inside the Yeongsan-jeon.

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The rather plain, and stout, Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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A close look at Sanshin inside the Samseong-gak.

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And a look at the equally vibrant mural dedicated to Yongwang.

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The golden tiger topped stone monument with the Samseong-gak in the background.

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The golden roofed, and newly built, main hall at Geumdangsa Temple.

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One of the amateurish looking Palsang-do murals that adorns the exterior walls to the main hall.

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A look inside at the main altar. Uniquely, there’s yet to hang a mural behind this triad.

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A collection of wooden Nahan to the right of the main altar.

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To the right of the main altar, and in between the monks’ dorms, is the Myeongbu-jeon.

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The main altar inside the Myeongbu-jeon with Jijang-bosal front and centre.

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The beautiful and unique yellow mural dedicated to the Dragon Ship of Wisdom.

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Off in the distance is the grotto where the monk Naong used to meditate.

Tapsa Temple – 탑사 (Jinan, Jeollabuk-do)

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 The amazing Tapsa Temple in Jinan, Jeollabuk-do Province.

Hello Again Everyone!!

The story of Tapsa Temple, which means Pagoda Temple, in English, begins with the enigmatic layman Lee Gap Yong (1860-1957). Lee Gap Yong first came to Mt. Maisan (Horse Ear Mountain) at the age of 25. For the next thirty years, Lee Gap Yong not only spent time meditating and enlightening himself, he single-handedly constructed some 108 spherical stone pagodas. He gathered the majority of rocks from the falling debris from the neighbouring mountain. Of this herculean task, some 80 pagodas still stand at Tapsa Temple. Much later in life, Lee Gap Yong became an ordained monk and the grounds became a temple.

You first approach the temple up a 1.5 kilometre road that skirts the beautiful peaks of Mt. Maisan. Unfortunately, a fair bit of the road that leads up to the temple is occupied by gaudy tourist trappings of restaurants and knick-knack stores. When you finally do arrive at Tapsa Temple, it’s like you enter into another world. The landscape of Tapsa Temple is almost like you’ve landed on the moon. Small and large spires stick out from the stony landscape. These pagodas look fragile in design; and yet, they’ve lasted over 100 years.

Standing in front of this bizarre landscape, you’ll notice a bronze statue of Lee Gap Yong inside an artificial cave. To the far right is the temple’s bell pavilion. As you make your way up the mountainous trail, heading towards the main hall, you’ll get an amazing view of the surrealistic landscape. Perched above the pagoda laden landscape is the diminutive main hall. All but unadorned on the exterior, the colorful interior of the main hall more than makes up for this deficiency. Sitting on the main altar sits a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). Flanking this statue, both to the left and right, are Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). To the left of the main altar is a Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural. And on the far left wall is a picture of Lee Gap Yong and Gwanseeum-bosal. To the right of the main altar is a guardian mural.

Behind the main hall, and perhaps one of the most original interiors in all of Korea, is the Sanshin-gak. Sitting to the centre right is a statue of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). To the centre left is a life-size statue of Lee Gap Yong in older age. The painting of Sanshin inside this hall has a triad of images. In the centre is the standard image of Sanshin, while to the right is a female representation of Sanshin. And amazingly, to the left is Lee Gap Yong with a set of stone pagodas at Tapsa Temple.

Above both of these halls are perhaps two of Tapsa Temple’s most famous collection of pagodas: Cheonji-tap and Obong-tap. To the left of the main hall, and down the side of the mountain trail, are two statues. The first is a beautiful granite statue of Gwanseeum-bosal, while the second is a stoic-looking Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha).

The final hall inside the temple grounds is the Yeongshin-gak hall. Inside this smaller sized hall sit three statues and paintings on the main altar. The first that sits in the centre is a crossed-eyed Seokgamoni-bul. To the right sits Gwanseeum-bosal with what looks to be Lee Gap Yong inside the painting that backs this statue. The final statue that sits on the altar, and to the far left, is Jijang-bosal. Backing this statue is an equally original painting of the Tapsa Temple grounds.

The entire temple grounds are really something so different from anything I’ve ever seen at a Korean temple. This temple goes a long way in counteracting all those arguments that say all Korean temples look the same. At every angle, you’ll see an all new pagoda or statue buried in the pock-marked landscape of Maisan Provincial Park.

Admission to the temple is 2,000 won. And if you bring a car, the parking fee is 2,000 won, as well.

HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll need to get to Jinan Bus Terminal from wherever it is you live in Korea. From the bus terminal, you’ll need to take a bus bound for Maisan Provincial Park. These buses leave every 40 minutes and start at 7:30 in morning and run until 18:00. Once you’re dropped off at the entry to Maisan Provincial Park, you’ll need to walk up the 1.5 kilometre road to Tapsa Temple. The 15 to 20 minute walk is a beautiful hike with the peaks of Mt. Maisan off in the distance.


크게 보기

OVERALL RATING: 9/10. While the road that leads up to the temple is poorly managed with over-commercialized restaurants, stores, and what-nots, the temple itself more than makes up for any short-comings. The other-worldly landscape is adorned with 80 stone pagodas and beautiful temple buildings. This temple is truly an original. And any visitor to Korea should make their way out to Jeollabuk-do Province to have a look at the amazing Tapsa Temple.

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The road that leads up Tapsa Temple.

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The beautiful view of Mt. Maisan.

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The pock-marked peaks of Mt. Maisan.

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A better look at the surreal landscape.

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The first view of the entire Tapsa Temple grounds.

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The beautiful bronze bell at Tapsa Temple.

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The bronze statue of Lee Gap Yong inside an artificial cave at the base of the mountain.

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The bizarre landscape at Tapsa Temple with some of the 80 pagodas that dot it.

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The main hall with the pair of Cheonji-tap pagodas above it.

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Inside the main hall with the altar statues to the right and the pictures of Lee Gap Yong to the left.

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The Sanshin-gak behind the main hall.

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The altar pieces and painting inside the Sanshin-gak.

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The view from the main hall down at the temple buildings and statues below.

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One of the highly-original pagodas at Tapsa Temple.

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The beautiful statue of Gwanseeum-bosal.

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The view from the Gwanseeum-bosal statue. Simply amazing!

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The stoic statue of Mireuk-bul.

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The Yeongshin-gak, which is the third temple hall, at Tapsa Temple.

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The statue of Jijang-bosal with a painting of Tapsa Temple behind him.

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A look up at the surreal landscape.

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A statue of Lee Gap Yong with the moon-like landscape all around him.

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 One last look up at one of the most original temples in all of Korea.