Ilchulam Hermitage – 일출암 (Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

DSC_2976

The main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall at Ilchulam Hermitage in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Just east of the airport and south of Mt. Unbongsan in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do is the diminutive Ilchulam Hermitage (Sunrise Hermitage). Next to a flowing stream, you’ll need to head down a country road to find this little known hermitage.

Upon arriving at the hermitage grounds, you’ll need to climb a set of stairs with rails next to it. The rails are used to bring items up to the hermitage. After summiting the stairs, you’ll be greeted by the main hall straight ahead of you. While a bit boxy in design, the main hall is adorned with masterful Ox-Herding murals all around its exterior walls. Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll first notice a triad of statues resting on the main altar. In the centre sits Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). To his right, he’s joined by a long-haired statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Hanging on the right wall is an older looking guardian mural that’s joined by a beautiful Koi and hummingbird mural. And to the left of the main altar is the Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural.

To the right of the main hall is the monks dorms. But it’s to the rear of the main hall, and up a set of stairs that’s joined by the sheer face of the neighbouring mountain, that you’ll come across the second shrine hall that visitors can explore at Ilchulam Hermitage: the Dokseong/Sanshin-gak. While the Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) mural is rather plain in composition, it’s the Sanshin mural that’s pretty unique. Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) is holding the tiger’s tail, while the tiger smiles in its folk like design.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Pohang Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take Bus #200. After 26 stops, or 50 minutes, get off at the “Sangjeong Geomunso Stop.” Walk about 700 metres, or 10 minutes, to get to Ilchulam Hermitage.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10. While rather underwhelming for the amount of buildings you can explore at Ilchulam Hermitage, it’s the murals like the Sanshin mural and the Ox-Herding murals that make the hermitage worth a visit. In addition, the main altar statues inside the main hall and the guardian mural add to the hermitage’s overall artistic beauty.

CSC_3110

The grounds as you first approach Ilchulam Hermitage.

CSC_3111

The main hall at the hermitage.

CSC_3139

One of the beautiful Ox-Herding murals that adorns the main hall.

CSC_3136

A look around the interior of the main hall.

CSC_3126

The guardian mural to the right of the main altar.

CSC_3129

A hummingbird and Koi mural to the left of the guardian mural.

CSC_3134

The unique Chilseong mural to the left of the main altar.

DSC_2990

It’s joined by this mural inside the main hall, as well.

CSC_3124

The rock walls that surround the hermitage grounds on all sides.

CSC_3120

A statue that a devotee left behind at Ilchulam Hermitage.

CSC_3112

The Dokseong/Sanshin-gak at the hermitage.

CSC_3118

A rather ordinary painting of Dokseong.

CSC_3117

Who is joined by the tiger-tail holding Sanshin.

Daewonsa Temple – 대원사 (Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

CSC_3115

The dragon’s head at Daewonsa Temple in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Without a doubt, Daewonsa Temple in northern Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do is one of the strangest and most unique temple’s you’ll visit in all of Korea. Located on the south side of Mt. Obongsan and just north of Chilpo Beach, you’ll find Daewonsa Temple.

You first approach the temple over the Chilpo Bridge and the stream that flows into the East Sea. Uniquely, Daewonsa Temple is divided into an upper and lower courtyard with the older portion of the temple in the lower courtyard. But it’s the snaking hundred metre long blue dragon that flows from the base of the temple up to its main hall heights that sets the temple apart. Approaching from the south, you can see the wide-open mouth of the dragon with a red exercise ball as the dragon’s tonsils. Across the bridge, and the pond that it spans, you’ll have to push your way past the dragon’s tonsils to enter the dragon. A little further ahead, you’ll find a door that gains you entrance to the temple’s lower main hall. As you enter the main hall, you’ll be welcomed by row upon row of various Buddhas. Next to these golden rows of Buddhas is a large shrine dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Resting on the main altar are a triad of statues centred by Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). And to the right of the main altar is a simplistic guardian mural.

There are a couple other shrine halls in the lower courtyard like the Chilseong-gak, the bell pavilion, as well as the Sanshin-gak. But it’s in the Sanshin-gak that you’re in for the greatest surprise. Housed inside the shaman shrine hall is one of the most original murals dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). With a winged helmet, a mix of Yongwang (The Dragon King) and Sanshin motifs, as well as Gwanseeum-bosal and Jijang-bosal intermingling with donja (attendants), this style of painting is completely unheard of, so enjoy!

Back at the head of the dragon, and up a steep incline, is the temple’s upper main hall. Surrounded by beautifully manicured grounds, the upper main hall is adorned with the Zodiac generals around its exterior walls. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar inside the cavernous main hall, are a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined to the right and left by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). And to the left and right of this triad, and resting on their own altar, are Daesaeji-bosal (The Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul), as well as Gwanseeum-bosal. Adorning the remaining walls is a guardian mural and a Chilseong mural.

Just outside the upper courtyard’s main hall are a row of granite statues. Once more, the triad is centred by Birojana-bul. Interestingly, and at the base of the dragon’s tail, there’s a door with a Nathwi on it. It’s through this door that you can walk through the remainder of the dragon’s body. Housed inside the dragon’s body are various shamanic murals.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Pohang Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take Bus #510. After 34 stops, or about 50 minutes, you’ll need to get off at the Chilpo 1-ri stop. From the stop, you’ll need to walk 500 metres, or 8 minutes, towards Daewonsa Temple.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10. Just because it is so different than all the rest, and it has a slight amusement park feel to it, Daewonsa Temple rates as highly as it does. Not only can you see paintings throughout the entire length of the dragon’s body, but you can also gain entrance to the lower courtyard’s main hall. In addition to this outlandish, yet strangely appropriate dragon, is the highly original Sanshin mural located just to the north of the side-winding blue dragon. There are quite a few customary things to explore at Daewonsa Temple, but it’s these to oddities that make the temple stand out.

CSC_3173

The welcoming Podae-hwasang  at Daewonsa Temple.

CSC_3146

The unique dragon’s head at the temple.

CSC_3112

A closer look at the blue dragon.

CSC_3113

In the jaws of the dragon with the red exercise ball as tonsils.

CSC_3114

The entry to the lower courtyard’s main hall.

CSC_3163

The welcoming rows of miniature Buddha statues.

CSC_3161

The main altar inside the lower courtyard’s main hall.

CSC_3170

A look from the exterior at the older main hall at Daewonsa Temple.

CSC_3160

To the right of the older main hall is this amazing Sanshin mural.

CSC_3144

The side-winding blue body of the dragon as you make your way up to the upper courtyard’s main hall.

CSC_3142

A look at the newly built Daeung-jeon.

CSC_3132

The main altar inside the newly built Daeung-jeon.

CSC_3124

The Dragon Ship of Wisdom with Jijang-bosal at the helm.

CSC_3138

The neighbouring statues with Birojana-bul to the far right.

CSC_3141

And the entrance to the dragon’s body.

Bogyeongsa Temple – 보경사 (Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

DSC_2716

The twin falls of Sangsaeng Waterfall at Bogyeongsa Temple in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!!

Continuing with my exploration of Gyeongsangbuk-do, and working my way north, I decided to visit Bogyeongsa Temple in northern Pohang this past weekend. And with every step that I took at Bogyeongsa Temple, it impressed me that much more.

The temple was first built in 603 A.D., during the 25th year of King Jinpyeong reign. Daedeok Jimyeong, a Buddhist high priest who returned to the Silla Kingdom after studying in China, said to King Jinpyeong, “If you discover a auspicious site from a famous mountain on the east coast, bury Palmyeonbogyeong [which is a scripture], and build a Buddhist temple, you will be able to prevent Japanese pirates from invading the Silla Kingdom, and you will unify the Three Kingdoms.” The king was glad and went north along the coast passing Pohang. He saw a mountain covered with clouds in five colors. That mountain was Mt. Naeyeonsan. And this is where the king buried the scriptures and founded Bogyeongsa Temple. The word “bogueong” means scripture in English. And this is where the temple gets its name. Purportedly, this scripture is buried under the Daejeokgwang-jeon. In total, there are four hermitages that surround this larger temple like Munsuam Hermitage and Bohyunam Hermitage, but none are really worth a visit.

When you first arrive at Bogyeongsa Temple, and before you make your way past the ticket booth, you’ll be greeted by a very colourful Iljumun Gate. Once you’ve passed by this gate, and the ticket booth, you’ll be greeted by a second Iljumun Gate, as well as a canopy of beautiful trees that stand closely in a row.

At the bend in the path, you’ll see a bridge and the rest of Bogyeongsa Temple behind it. The first structure to greet you on the temple grounds is the Cheonwangmun Gate that houses four artfully rendered wooden sculptures of the Four Heavenly Kings. And they are trampling under their feet four equally artistic demon sculptures. Past this gate, and before you come to the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall, you’ll notice a simple pagoda. This three tier pagoda dates back to 1023 A.D., and it uniquely has two sculpted handles placed on both the north and south face of the pagoda. Inside the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall sits a triad of statues. Seated in the centre sits Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). And he’s flanked on either side by the Indian-inspired, and feminine-looking, statues of Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). The entire interior of the hall is adorned with crystal statues of Birojana-bul, as well as a guardian mural that hangs on the right wall. As for the exterior, there are beautiful pastoral paintings, as well as a set of wooden Haetae statues that sit at the base of the hall entrance.

Past this hall, and climbing the stairs to the upper courtyard, you’ll see the Daeung-jeon main hall. This rather large main hall has a triad of statues that sit on the main hall. They are Seokgamoni-bul in the centre, and he’s joined to the right by Mireuk-bosal (The Future Buddha)and Jaehwagalra-bosal (The Past Buddha) to the left. On the right wall hangs a guardian mural. And surrounding the exterior walls to the main hall are some more beautiful pastoral paintings.

Behind the main hall sits a row of five halls. The hall to the far right is the Myeongbu-jeon Hall that houses Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). He’s joined by the Ten Kings of the Underworld and ten stunning depictions of these kings in the underworld that they rule over.

Next to this hall is the Sanryeong-gak which houses rows of the Nahan (The Disciples of the Historical Buddha), as well as a triad of statues on the main altar. Sitting in the centre is a statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined to the right by the blue tiger riding Munsu-bosal and to the left by the white elephant riding Bohyun-bosal.

And next to this hall is the Josa-jeon Hall, which houses paintings of prominent monks at the temple like Samyeong-daesa and Wonjin-guksa. Additionally, there’s a rather peculiar plaster appearing statue of Wonjin-guksa on the main altar inside this hall.

The final two halls at the temple are the Sanshin-gak and the Palsang-jeon. Inside the Sanshin-gak is a beautiful golden painting dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). And next to it, and the last in the line of five halls, is the Palsang-jeon that houses the eight scenes from the historical Buddha’s life. Sitting on the main altar is an all white Seokgamoni-bul. He’s joined to the right by the purple crowned Mireuk-bosal and to the left by Jaehwagalra-bosal.

Perhaps the most spectacular part about this temple are the thirteen waterfalls that are located behind Bogyeongsa Temple, and up a valley. The further you go, the more impressive the waterfalls become until you finally arrive at the sixth and seventh waterfall. Yeonsang Waterfall is situated behind the pitted face of Gwaneeum Waterfall, and it stands 30 metres in height. In total, the journey there and back to these falls is 7 kilometres, so pack your hiking boots.

Admission to the temple is 2,500 won, and it’s open from sunrise to sunset.

HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll have to get to the Pohang Intercity Bus Terminal. Across from the bus terminal is a bus stop where the #510 Bogyeongsa (보경사) bus goes to the temple. However, this shouldn’t be confused with the other #510 bus. Only take the one that reads “Bogyeongsa” on it. The bus ride will take you about an hour and it leaves every hour.


크게 보기

OVERALL RATING: 9/10. The more I explored both Bogyeongsa Temple and the valley of waterfalls that lay behind it, the more impressed I was by this temple. On its own, the numerous halls that populate Bogyeongsa Temple make a trip north of Pohang worth it. But when you add into the mix the best that Korea has to offer in the way of nature, and you’ll understand why this temple is a must in the province of Gyeongsangbuk-do. However, be warned, this destination is also highly popular with Koreans, as well.

CSC_2742

The first colourful Iljumun Gate at Bogyeongsa Temple.

CSC_2744

And the second under a canopy of trees and along a swept pathway.

CSC_2750

The Cheonwangmun Gate at Bogyeongsa Temple.

DSC_2527

One of the fierce Cheonwang (Heavenly Kings) inside the Cheonwangmun Gate.

DSC_2533

And the demented demon that he’s trampling under foot.

CSC_2758

The three tier pagoda that dates back to 1023 A.D.

CSC_2765

A good look at the Daejeokgwang-jeon with paper lanterns all around in preparation for Buddha’s birthday.

DSC_2554

The older looking wooden Haetae outside the Daejeokgwang-jeon entrance.

DSC_2560

A look inside the Daejeokgwang-jeon at the main altar. In the centre sits Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). He’s flanked on either side by Munsu-bosal and Bohyun-bosal.

CSC_2796

A look over at the Daeung-jeon from the upper courtyard.

DSC_2674

A look inside the main hall reveals Seokgamoni-bul in the centre. He’s flanked on either side by Mireuk-bosal and Jaehwagalra-bosal.

CSC_2771

The upper courtyard with a row of five halls.

DSC_2581

Inside the first hall, the Palsang-jeon, you’ll see this altar as well as eight surrounding murals that depict the Historical Buddha’s life.

DSC_2600

And inside the Sanshin-gak is this beautiful golden Sanshin mural.

DSC_2603

Next to the Sanshin-gak is the Josa-jeon. And inside you’ll see this sight adorning the main altar.

DSC_2619

Next to the Josa-jeon is the Sanryeong-gak. Inside, you’ll see a couple rows of Nahan, as well as this colourful main altar with Seokgamoni-bul in the centre being joined by two white glad Bodhisattvas: Munsu-bosal and Bohyun-bosal.

CSC_2794

The beautiful main altar inside the Myeongbu-jeon with Jijang-bosal to the left and some of the Ten Kings of the Underworld to the right: both statues and paintings.

DSC_2649

A closer look at just one, of the ten, murals that depicts one of the Ten Kings of the Underworld.

CSC_2798

The view of the temple courtyard as I make my way towards the Waterfall Kingdom behind Bogyeongsa Temple.

CSC_2815

The beautiful and lush forest you’ll walk through to get to some of the most beautiful sights in all of Korea.

 CSC_2817

The twin falls at Sangsaeng Waterfall.

CSC_2824

The caved dotted landscape that surrounds Yeonsang Waterfall. Overhead, you can see the suspension bridge that leads to…

CSC_2827

The view of the 30 metre tall Gwaneeum Waterfall.

Jajangam Hermitage – 자장암 (Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

DSC_2214

The stunning view from the Chilseong-gak at Jajangam Hermitage in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Hovering over top of Oeosa Temple, precarious placed on the edge of a mountain cliff, is Jajangam Hermitage. The hermitage, which is named after the famed Buddhist monk, Jajang-yulsa, is situated 200 metres up a mountainside trail. While not the easiest of hikes, it is a rather easy hike when it comes to mountainside hikes.

Nearing the peak of the mountain, you’ll see a trail that leads both right and left. To the left, before you enter the temple grounds, you’ll follow a trail that looks down a steep cliff at Oeosa Temple and the beautiful river that runs out in front of it. It’s also from this angle that you get some really great pictures of Jajangam Hermitage up above. So take your time and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Back on the main trail, and heading up towards the hermitage, you can see a tiny trail entrance just before a row of bamboo trees. Take this trail, and once more, you’ll get some great views of Oeosa Temple down below and the hovering Jajangam Hermitage up above.

Finally having crested the mountain, and coming to Jajangam Hermitage, you’ll notice a large beautiful hall to your immediate left. This two storied structure acts as both the main hall and the monks facilities. The first floor houses the monks facilities, while the visitors’ centre and the main hall rest on the second floor. To gain access to the hermitage halls, you’ll have to take the flight of stairs to the second floor.

Inside the main hall, and resting on the main altar, are a triad of statues centred by Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined to the right by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and to the left by Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). This triad rests under a large new red canopy. And this triad is surrounded by at least a hundred statues of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). On the right wall is the Shinjung Taenghwa painting, while to the left rests an altar for the dead.

Next to the main hall, and up a smaller set of stairs, is Chilseong-gak, which is solely dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). This is the hall that is precarious placed on the cliff of the mountain that you can see all the way from Oeosa Temple. Inside this hall is a beautiful golden relief of Chilseong, while the exterior is adorned with two very simplistic sets of paintings: the Palsang-do murals and the Shimu-do murals. Beautifully placed out in front of this hall is a stone lantern that puts an exclamation mark on the entire view.

Around the corner, and rather surprisingly, is a hall dedicated to Dokseong (The Recluse) and the Nahan. The exterior walls are well populated with groups of Nahan, while the altar inside the main hall is adorned with a rather simplistic painting of Dokseong. He’s surrounded on all sides by smaller sized statues of the Nahan.

In the set of hermitage halls, I thought the Dokseong-gak would be the last one in the set; however, rounding the narrow corner, I was pleasantly surprised to see the diminutive hall dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). Inside this narrow hall is a similarly designed painting of Sanshin as the one that appears at Oeosa. It’s simple, yet beautiful, in design.

Once more, I thought this would be the final thing to see at the hermitage, when my wife told me that around the elbowed bend in the path were the purported remains of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). Above a simple stone altar, and under a twisted red pine, is a budo dedicated to the Buddha’s remains.

HOW TO GET THERE: From Busan, you’ll first have to get to the Busan Intercity Bus Terminal at the Nopo Subway Stop, #134. You can catch a bus to Pohang Intercity Bus Terminal. The trip takes about an hour and twenty minutes, it leaves every ten to fifteen minutes, and it costs 7,700 won. From the Pohang Intercity Terminal, you’ll then have to make your way over to the Ocheon Transfer Station. To get there, you can either take bus #175 for about 30 minutes to the transfer, or you can take a taxi for 17 minutes, and it’ll cost you about 9,000 won. From the Ocheon Transfer Station, you’ll then have to board the bus that says, Ocheonjiseon (Oeosa), 오천지선 (오어사). The ride lasts about 20 minutes, or 11 stops. From where the bus lets you off, you’ll have to walk the remaining kilometre to Oeosa Temple. Just before you enter the Oeosa Temple parking lot, you’ll notice a sign to the right that’s the start of a mountainside trail that leads all the way up to Jajangam Hermitage. It’s about 200 metres to the top of the mountain and Jajangam Hermitage.


View Larger Map

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. Rarely does a hermitage rival that of the main temple, but Jajangam Hermitage does exactly that. Secretively, this hermitage slowly reveals a wealth of artistry: both natural and Buddhist in nature. The beautiful scenery that surrounds you on all sides, coupled with the beautifully situated, and designed, halls, make Jajangam Hermitage a must see with or without visiting Oeosa Temple. But since they’re so closely situated to each other, it makes seeing both a no brainer. And then when you add into the mix the purported remains of Seokgamoni-bul, well…you get the point.

CSC_2273

Spring was just starting to come into bloom as we climbed the mountain towards Jajangam Hermitage.

CSC_2274

A look down at the trail that leads up to Jajangam Hermitage.

CSC_2286

A side trail that allows for some spectacular views of Oeosa Temple down below and the surrounding mountains and lake.

CSC_2277

And from this side trail you’ll see the first amazing sights of Jajangam Hermitage up above.

CSC_2278

 A fuller view of the hermitage grounds.

DSC_2211

Finally at the top of the mountain, you’ll first come across the main hall.

DSC_2200

Inside the main hall sits this triad under a large red canopy. In the centre sits Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). And he’s flanked on either side by Daesaeji-bosal and Gwanseeum-bosal.

DSC_2203

To the side is this beautiful guardian mural.

DSC_2209

The view from the main hall out onto the mountains and the picturesque Chilseong-gak.

DSC_2213

The view down from the Chilseong-gak at Oeosa Temple.

CSC_2301

 A better look at the Chilseong-gak.

CSC_2300

 Yet another amazing view from the heights of Jajangam Hermitage.

CSC_2294

 Rounding the corner, you’ll pass by the Dokseong-gak.

DSC_2216

 Inside the Dokseong-gak is this simplistic painting of Dokseong (The Recluse), as well as the sixteen statues of the Nahan.

DSC_2215

 To the left of the Dokseong-gak is the Sanshin-gak.

DSC_2222

 Inside this final hall is a rather typical painting of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).

CSC_2293

Rather surprisingly, and around the bend that runs behind the Sanshin-gak, is a stone lotus bud with a sari from the Buddha’s earthly remains.

Oeosa Temple – 오어사 (Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

CSC_2294

Springtime at Oeosa Temple in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

I had long wanted to visit Oeosa Temple ever since I got my very first tour guide book about Korea back in 2003. And while it took me ten years to get there, it certainly didn’t disappoint with its natural beauty.

Oeosa Temple was first established during the Silla Period under King Jinpyeong’s reign (579 A.D. to 632 A.D.). In its very first incarnation it was called Hangsasa Temple. The temple gained its present name from a very interesting story that involves the monks Hyegong and Wonhyo. One day, while attempting to revive two fish that were swimming in the neighbouring lake, one of the two came back to life. Both claimed that they were the one to revive the fish, so from that day forward the temple came to be known as Oeosa Temple: My Fish Temple.

You first approach Oeosa Temple up a long winding road that’s surrounded by close lying mountains and an artificial pond. On your way, you’ll be joined by local mountain hikers that enjoy the low lying mountains and the picturesque landscape just south of Pohang.

Immediately when you enter the temple grounds, and just past the overcrowded parking lot, you’ll be greeted by the rather openly designed bell pavilion. There’s a large Brahma bell that sits in the centre of the pavilion, and it’s adorned with beautiful Biseon. In addition to this beautiful bronze bell, you’ll see a rather uniquely, and gnarly, designed wooden fish gong.

To the immediate right of the bell pavilion is the temple’s fountain that has a baby stone monk at the head of the fountain. Rather cutely, this stone monk is clothed with a scarf and toque. And to the right of this rather cute fountain and statue is the temple’s Nahan-jeon. Up the stairs, and a peek inside this hall, will reveal a golden collection of Nahan statues that are centred by a large triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha).

Next to the Nahan-jeon is the simplistic Samseong-gak with beautiful landscape paintings around its exterior walls. Inside, and sitting in the centre on the main altar, is a rather long painting dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). To the right is a simplistic painting of Dokseong (The Recluse), and to the left is a stunning painting of Yongwang (The Dragon King). And if you look close enough at this painting, you’ll actually see the bubbled golden skin of the dragon in the Yongwang painting. Keeping this hall company, and slightly to the left and under a beautiful cherry blossom tree, is the Sanshin-gak. The simplistic painting houses a ferocious tiger.

Uniquely, or strangely, depending on how you want to view it, the main hall at Oeosa Temple sits in the centre of the temple courtyard and not at the back of the grounds. To the left sit the monks’ dorms, visitors’ centre, and temple kitchen. As for the main hall itself, it dates back to 1741, and it’s surrounded on all sides by Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals.

After looking at the main hall head-on, you can walk your way out the temple gates and past the two fierce looking guardians that adorn the temple gate doors. Down the stairs, and you’ll come to the beautiful river that flows out in front of the tranquil temple. The sandy beach front and the neighbouring rocking bridge that allows hikers up into the trails that surround the temple only add to the atmosphere of the temple.

Before you leave, make sure you visit the temple’s museum, which is free, because it houses the purported hat of Wonhyo-daesa, as well as a bronze bell that dates back to 1216.

HOW TO GET THERE: From Busan, you’ll first have to get to the Busan Intercity Bus Terminal at the Nopo Subway Stop, #134. You can catch a bus to Pohang Intercity Bus Terminal. The trip takes about an hour and twenty minutes, it leaves every ten to fifteen minutes, and it costs 7,700 won. From the Pohang Intercity Terminal, you’ll then have to make your way over to the Ocheon Transfer Station. To get there, you can either take bus #175 for about 30 minutes to the transfer, or you can take a taxi for 17 minutes, and it’ll cost you about 9,000 won. From the Ocheon Transfer Station, you’ll then have to board the bus that says, Ocheonjiseon (Oeosa), 오천지선 (오어사). The ride lasts about 20 minutes, or 11 stops. From where the bus lets you off, you’ll have to walk the remaining kilometre to Oeosa Temple.


View Larger Map

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. Oeosa Temple is one of the most beautifully situated temples in all of Korea with the meandering river that flows out in front of its grounds as well as the towering mountains that hover over it like a guardian angel at every angle. Add into the mix the ancient bronze bell, the historic main hall, and the beautiful artistry in and around all the temple halls, and you’ll know why Oeosa Temple makes for such a nice weekend getaway.

CSC_2275

The beautiful artificial lake just outside the temple grounds.

CSC_2278

The mountains and lake that surround Oeosa Temple.

CSC_2279

The beautiful hanging bridge that allows visitors to cross the artificial lake.

CSC_2283

The back entrance to the temple grounds.

DSC_2085

The dry water fountain with a stone monk statue with a toque on its head.

CSC_2308

The bell pavilion at Oeosa Temple.

CSC_2284

The Nahan-jeon Hall with beautiful golden statues inside.

DSC_2089

A look at the main hall from the Nahan-jeon.

CSC_2309

A good look at the Samseong-gak and the Sanshin-gak behind it, as well as spring in full bloom.

DSC_2115

The painting of Chilseong (The Seven Stars) inside the Samseong-gak.

DSC_2114

A look at Yongwang (The Dragon King).

DSC_2101

And a look at the ferocious tiger that joins Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).

CSC_2291

The beautiful view of the main hall from the Sanshin-gak.

CSC_2298

A better look at the main hall front and centre.

DSC_2146

Just one of the beautiful Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals that adorns the exterior walls of the main hall.

DSC_2152

A monk saying morning prayers inside the main hall.

DSC_2161

The purported hat of Wonhyo-daesa inside the temple’s museum.

DSC_2168

A look at the small bronze bell that dates back to 1216 inside Oeosa Temple’s museum.

CSC_2300

The temple gates at Oeosa Temple.

CSC_2306

A look up at the well manicured grounds at Oeosa Temple.

DSC_2133

A view from the water’s edge.