The spectacular view from Munsuam Hermitage in Goseong, Gyeongsangnam-do.
Hello Again Everyone!!
You first arrive at Munsuam Hermitage up a zig-zagging road that winds up Mt. Cheongryangsan. When you finally do arrive at the hermitage, you’ll first realize that Munsuam Hermitage buildings are precariously placed on the very face of the mountain that it resides on. The second thing, or perhaps even the first thing, you’ll realize are the spectacular views of the East Sea, the tiny islands that dot the horizon, and the neighbouring Bohyunsa Temple, which is named after the Bodhisattva of Power: Bohyun-bosal. And all of this can be seen from the hermitage parking lot.
After zig-zagging the final road that leads up to the delicately placed temple courtyard, and after passing by a cute wooden carving with travelers’ rocks placed all around it, you’ll first be greeted by the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas that lies to your immediate left. Underneath this hall is the administrative office, but it’s really the second floor that houses wall-to-wall Buddha statues that really stands out. Sitting under a bright red canopy on the main altar are a triad of statues. In the centre sits Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the left and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right. Other than the beautiful one thousand Buddha statues, the ceiling is painted with portraits of various Nahan figures.
As you make your way from this lower courtyard, to the upper courtyard, where a handful of other hermitage buildings rest, you’ll pass by a supply building and an observation deck. It’s from this observation deck, which also houses the earthly remains of the renowned monk, Cheongdam, that you’ll get the best view of the sights off in the distanct. Joining these remains are a turtle based stele and a stone statue of Seokgamoni-bul that looks out onto the ocean with you.
Further up the path, and now on the upper courtyard at Munsuam Hermitage, you’ll see the main hall to your right. This hall is surrounded by beautiful Shimu-do, Ox-herding, murals. As for the interior, and sitting all alone on the is a seated statue of Gwanseeum-bosal, who is backed by a red mural of herself. To the left of the main altar is a standing statue of Jijang-bosal, who is backed by an elaborate mural of himself. And on the far left wall hangs a rather uniquely coloured guardian mural. And to the right of the main altar is a statue of an attendant riding a blue lion. This statue is backed by a glass window that looks out onto a neighbouring mountain crevice. And on the right wall is a memorial shrine for the dead.
To the right of the main hall is another observation deck that looks out more towards the rolling mountains and the valleys that part them. And to the left of the main hall is the monks’ quarters. It’s from out in front of this building that you get another great view of the ocean and temple down below.
The final hall at the hermitage is the Dokseong-gak, which is dedicated to Dokseong (The Recluse), and lies up a treacherous mountainside path. In fact, a portion of the mountain’s face has been cut away to allow access to this hard to reach hall. Once you do arrive at the Dokseong-gak, which crowns the heights of the hermitage, you’ll be greeted by a solitary statue of Dokseong inside this hall.
HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Goseong from Busan, which is where Munsuam Hermitage is located, you’ll first have to get to the Dongbu Intercity Bus Terminal. You can easily get to this terminal from the Busan station system, if you get off at the Nopo-dong subway stop, #134, on the first line. The earliest bus leaves at 7:45 a.m., and the ride takes you two hours and twenty minutes. The bus ride will cost you 10,100 won. After arriving in Goseong, you’ll then have to take a taxi to get to Munsuam Hermitage. You’ll have to do this because there’s absolutely no bus that goes to the temple from Goseong. In total, the taxi should cost about 12,000 won, and the ride should last about twenty five minutes. Just make sure you hang onto your taxi, because it’s a long walk back to the terminal.
OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10. The stunning ocean side sights are similar to Boriam Hermitage in Namhae, and yet Munsuam Hermitage is a lot less crowded. Also, the hermitage buildings, like the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas, the crowning Dokseong-gak, as well as the colourful main hall allow this hermitage to slightly edge ahead of Boriam Hermitage. That, as well as the mysterious Buddha that lies off in the distance along the mountain folds of Mt. Cheongryangsan make this reclusive Goseong Hermitage a must for the temple adventurer!