The Story of…Anjeokam Hermitage and Jogyeam Hermitage

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The beautiful Naewon Valley in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

 Hello Again Everyone!!

With hundreds of successful temple adventures, there have been a handful of times that I haven’t succeeded for one reason or another. Other than the famed failure at Buljosa Temple in Gimhae, because of a crazed monk, my other failure came at Anjeokam Hermitage and Jogyeam Hermitage in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

It had been my intention, when setting out for Anjeokam Hermitage and Jogyeam Hermitage, to enjoy a crisp fall morning hike in the Naewon valley. I knew that the trek up to the two hermitages would not only be long (9 kilometres) and arduous (up and down mountains and valleys), but that they might also be a bit hard to find. I knew the area well, having traveled the valley numerous times both in groups and by myself. I knew once I passed Nojeonam Hermitage, which is a couple kilometers into the valley, that I would have to keep my eyes peeled for the sign marker pointing me north towards Anjeokam Hermitage and Jogyeam Hermitage.

I’m pretty good at reading maps, but when I came to the map on the trail, I completely misread it. I blew past the trail head that would have led me to the two remote hermitages. This mistake would take me halfway up Mt. Cheonseongsan, in the wrong direction, and four kilometers out of the way. Backtracking, and after asking a couple Korean nuns, I finally found the trail head that I was initially looking for. When I finally did arrive at Anjeokam Hermitage, the first of the two nestled beside the other, I had already traveled 8.5 kilometres (with another four and a half to get back to my car), up and around mountains and valleys.

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The not so nice monk at Anjeokam Hermitage, who is highlighted by the arrow.

However, the story doesn’t end there. There were a couple times when I was going to give up along the way, so as you can imagine, I was pretty happy to finally arrive at Anjeokam Hermitage. I started to explore the smaller sized hermitage grounds, having a look inside the rather atypical main hall and the stately Iljumun Gate. I had noticed, what I believed to be, the head monk at the hermitage talking to an older Korean man. When I came out from the main hall, the head monk was no longer joined by the Korean man. Perhaps this is when he noticed me for the first time, as I made my way towards the Samseong-gak. I thought it was pretty harmless, in my near delirious state, to explore the shaman shrine hall. Well…I couldn’t have been more wrong. He told me no, in Korean, and pointed me towards the exit. As I said, being nearly delirious with exhaustion, I simply said good-bye to the hermitage and made my way towards the neighbouring Jogyeam Hermitage. With another hermitage to see, which turned out to be stunning, and another four and half kilometers to hike, it wasn’t until a couple days later that I realized that I had been shooed from a hermitage.

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The much nicer, and more beautiful, Jogyeam Hermitage.

This would be my first, of just two, temples that I’ve been asked to leave or simply barred from entering. Fortunately, in the over three hundred temples and hermitages that I’ve visited in Korea since 2003, it’s been nothing more than an isolated incident. More often than not, Buddhist temples and hermitages are among the friendliest places you’ll visit in Korea. So don’t be deterred, I haven’t been.

For more information on Anjeokam Hermitage.

For more information on Jogyeam Hermitage.

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A beautiful water cascade in the Naewon Valley.

Jogyeam Hermitage – 조계암 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

Picture 183An autumnal look from the courtyard at Jogyeam Hermitage in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

I had wanted to visit a few of the hermitages in the Naewon valley, but getting lost, and travelling additional mountainside kilometers, and that dream quickly faded. Instead, I first visited Anjeogam Hermitage, followed by Jogyeam Hermitage, which is to the rear of Anjeogam Hermitage.

You’ll approach Jogyeam Hermitage (조계암) down a country road, and next to a dirt field, to the rear of Anjeogam Hermitage. Jogyeam Hermitage is only 300 metres down this road that gradually inclines up the side of a mountain.

The first glimpse of the hermitage you’ll get is of the hermitage parking lot, and the visitor’s centre, which is slightly up the embankment with the rest of the hermitage buildings. Once squared to the upper courtyard stairs, you’ll climb this set to enter into the hermitage’s courtyard. Amazingly, especially for how secluded it is, Jogyeam Hermitage has a lot for the temple adventurer to see.

In front of the large main hall with a veranda, is the nine-tier pagoda that is simplistic in design. There are four large protective lions on each directional side of the base of the pagoda. Other than these lions, the pagoda is reminiscent of a pagoda from the Silla Dynasty. Behind the pagoda is the beautifully designed and decorated main hall. The exterior of the main hall is decorated with two sets of murals. On the upper tier are beautiful renderings of the Palsang-do paintings of the Buddha’s life. On the lower tier are various paintings that are significant to Korean Buddhism like the Wonhyo and Uisang mural, as well as the Dazu Huike and Bodhidharma mural. All the paintings are amazingly realistic in their composition. Inside, the main hall has a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). To his right is a statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). And hanging on the left wall is the guardian painting.

Behind the main hall is a nicely designed Samseong-gak shrine hall dedicated to the three most popular shaman deities in Korea: Chilseong (The Seven Stars), Dokseong (The Recluse), and San shin (The Mountain god). While these paintings aren’t anything that will blow your mind, they are well executed. On the exterior walls of this hall is a fiercely painted orange tiger symbolic of San shin. To the right of the main hall is a smaller sized shrine hall that was under renovation when I visited. So I’m not exactly sure who it’s dedicated to. And to the left is a beautiful water fountain that I replenished the supply of water at after the first 7 kilometres of my hike were complete.

Admission to the hermitage itself is free; however, you’ll have to pay an admission fee at the park entry of 3,000 won.

For more on Jogyeam Hermitage, check this out!

HOW TO GET THERE:  While Nojeonam Hermitage is a bit of an adventure to get to, Jogyeam Hermitage is even more difficult to find. From Yangsan, you can catch bus #12-1 from Yangsan bus terminal. This bus leaves every hour. From the bus terminal, you’ll ride the bus about 20 to 30 minutes in front of the  Naewonsa Temple entrance. Once here, you’ll have to walk an additional 30 minutes to the ticket booth. You can either walk the 30 minutes or take a taxi. Once you’re at the  Naewonsa Temple ticket booth, instead of heading right towards  Naewonsa Temple, you’ll have to head left and walk through a parking lot. Once you’re at the far end of the parking lot, and next to a washroom facility, you’ll see a green barrier fence in front of a dirt road. There’s an entrance to the right. You should head down this dirt trail for 2 kilometres until you arrive at Nojeonam Hermitage. Once you get to Nojeonam Hermitage, hang a right at the bridge. You’ll follow this trail for another 2 kilometres beside a cascading stream. Eventually, you’ll get to a map marker where the trails split in a couple of directions. You want to take the one that goes up the hill and that lies directly in front of the map. Head up this trail for another kilometer until you arrive at Anjeogam Hermitage. To the left, and for 300 metres, you’ll finally arrive at Jogyeam Hermitage.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. While just as beautifully situated as Anjeogam Hermitage, the hermitage buildings at Jogyeam Hermitage are just a little bit more beautiful. With the beautiful exterior paintings on the main hall, the simplistic lion pagoda, as well as the compact Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall, this hermitage rates slightly higher than the neighbouring one.

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The start of the long 12 kilometre hike towards Jogyeam Hermitage.
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The water rolling down the stream was still high from the rain from the day previous, and the fog was still surrounding the valley peaks.
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This is the map you’ll find at Nojeonam Hermitage. You’ll still have a long way to go from here.
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An amazing view up the cascading valley with a waterfall to the right.
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And now, a view of the cascading riverbed.
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From this sign, you’re almost there. Now, all you’ll have to do is head 1 kilometre straight up the mountain face!
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Finally, you’re almost there, just another 300 metres up an incline.
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The first look up at the Jogyeam Hermitage courtyard from the parking lot.
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A gorgeous view of the fall change from the courtyard at Jogyeam Hermitage.
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A look over at the uniquely designed stone lantern with the bell pavilion behind it. Next to both of these structures is a shrine hall.
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A look across the Jogyeam Hermitage courtyard at the nine-tier stone pagoda and the main hall to the right.
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A better look at one of the four fiercely protective lions adorning the base of the pagoda.
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A look inside the main hall with a centred Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) with a flanking Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the far right.
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Just one of the amazing murals that adorns the lower tier of paintings around the main hall. This one depicts the encounter between Dazu Huike and the Bodhidharma.
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On the upper tier of murals are the Palsang-do murals. This one depicts the temptation of Buddha by Mara and his three daughters.
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A look up at the Samseong-gak shrine hall dedicated to the three most popular shaman gods in Korea. This shrine hall is to the left rear of the main hall.
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A gorgeously rendered tiger that adorns the exterior walls of the Samseong-gak shrine hall.
Picture 158Inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall is this painting of Chilseong (The Seven Stars).
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And to the left of Chilseong is this painting of San shin (The Mountain Spirit).