Anjeongsa Temple – 안정사 (Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do)


The beautifully framed Myeongbu-jeon Hall at Anjeongsa Temple in Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Anjeongsa Temple is located on Mt. Byeokbangsan in northern Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do. Anjeongsa Temple was first constructed in 654 A.D. by the famed monk, Wonhyo-daesa. The temple has undergone numerous renovations and rebuilds; the last of which was completed in 1751.

You first approach Anjeongsa Temple up a trail that leads you towards the surrounding mountains. The first structure at the temple to greet you is the two pillared Iljumun Gate that is elaborately painted.

A little further along, and next to the neighbouring stream that leads up to the temple grounds, and you’ll find the beautiful Manse-ru Pavilion that dates back to 1686. While subsequently destroyed, the pavilion was later rebuilt in 1841 in the typical late-Joseon style of Gyeongsangnam-do. During its rebuild, the size of the pavilion was downsized from its much larger former self. To the right of the set of stairs that lead up into the temple courtyard is the towering bell pavilion. The first story houses the temple’s bell that dates back to 1580, while the second story houses the rest of the temple’s percussion instruments.

Mounting the stairs and standing in the grassy temple courtyard, you’ll notice the Daeung-jeon main hall straight ahead. The main hall is externally decorated with murals that have all but faded and are now unidentifiable. Housed inside the Daeung-jeon, and sitting on the main altar, are a triad of statues that date back to 1358. Sitting in the centre is a statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the left of the main altar is the uniquely painted Yongwang (The Dragon King) mural, as well as the temple’s guardian mural. To the right of the main altar hangs an elaborate Gamno-do mural for the dead, as well as an all-white Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) statue. Be careful while inside this hall, because the ancient floor boards are completely uneven inside with several centimetres sometimes separating one wooden board from another.

To the left of the main hall is the Nahan-jeon. This natural wood exterior is housed with a triad of all-white statues on the main altar. Sitting in the centre is a simple Seokgamoni-bul statue. He’s joined by two lines on either side of the main altar of the sixteen Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha). And to the left of the Nahan-jeon is a monks’ dormitory. Out in front of this dorm are large pictures of former president Park Chung Hee and his wife, Yuk Young Soo.

To the right of the main hall, besides the monks facilities, are two more shrine halls that visitors can explore at Anjeongsa Temple. The first of the two is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Inside this hall are a set of four paintings. The first to the far left is the older, and uniquely designed, earring wearing Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). He’s joined to the right by a rather plain Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural, as well as a rather ordinary Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) mural. Also housed inside the Samseong-gak is what looks to be a monk painting on the far right wall.

The final shrine hall a visitor can explore is the Myeongbu-jeon shrine hall dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). The interior of the hall is lined with the Ten Kings of the Underworld, as well as a large black-haired statue of Jijang-bosal resting all alone on the main altar. There are numerous haunting pictures of the dead inside this hall, so please be on your best behaviour.

HOW TO GET THERE: From in front of the Tongyeong Intercity Bus Terminal, there is a bus stop. It’s from this bus stop that you’ll need to board Bus #661 bound for Anjeongsa Temple. After 20 stops, or 40 minutes, you’ll need to get off at the Anjeongsa Temple bus stop. From there, follow the signs towards the temple for about 400 metres.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. While not a temple that will overwhelm you with just one thing, Anjeongsa Temple has several unique features to offer a temple adventurer. One such feature is the set of pictures dedicated to Park Chung Hee and his wife, as well as the 14th century main altar statues inside the Daeung-jeon. Adding to the temple’s overall appeal are the uneven set of ancient floor boards, the hard to find Gamno-do mural, as well as the earring wearing Sanshin mural inside the Samseong-gak. Adding them all up, and you can make a pretty nice day of it in Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do.


The two pillared Iljumun Gate at Anjeongsa Temple.


The Manse-ru Pavilion at the temple.


The two storied bell pavilion at Anjeongsa Temple.


The monks’ dorms and Nahan-jeon Hall.


The two pictures out in front of the monks’ dorms. The one to the left is of former president Park Chung Hee and the other is of his wife.


The main altar inside the Nahan-jeon.


The Daeung-jeon main hall at Anjeongsa Temple.


The main altar inside the Daeung-jeon. The statues date back to 1358.


The beautiful canopy over top of the main altar’s triad of statues.


The Gamno-do painting to the right of the main altar.


And to the left rests the temple’s guardian mural.


The Yongwang mural that hangs inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.


The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall to the left with the Myeongbu-jeon Hall to the right.


The uniquely designed Sanshin mural inside the Samseong-gak.


The monk mural of five inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall, as well.


A look around the Myeongbu-jeon Hall with the golden Jijang-bosal to the right.


One of the Ten Kings of the Underworld inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.


The view from the Myeongbu-jeon Hall out onto the Mt. Byeokbangsan.

Video: Miraesa Temple

Hello Again Everyone,

Sorry that it’s been so long since I last posted a video from a Korean Buddhist temple. I didn’t even realize it’s been a month. To make up for it, I’ve decided to post a video from the gorgeous Miraesa Temple in the very scenic city of Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do. With only a handful of buildings at this beautiful temple, the well manicured grounds, the unique interior of the main hall, and the serenity that this temple exudes, makes Miraesa Temple a beautiful temple to visit. Hope you enjoy!

Miraesa Temple – 미래사 (Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do)


The temple courtyard at Miraesa Temple in Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone,

The final temple that I visited in my 4 city, 7 temple, whirlwind tour of western Gyeongsangnam-do was Miraesa Temple up in the mountains of Tongyeong. It was definitely a temple that surprised me with its aesthetic beauty.

As you walk up to the temple courtyard at Miraesa Temple, you’ll be greeted by a beautiful pond to your left and a dragon-headed bridge that spans its depths. Interestingly, and nothing really to do with the temple itself, but more with the kindness and charity of Buddhism, are the wheelchairs that are waiting free of charge at the entrance of the temple for those that require one.

As for the temple gate itself, it’s rather unique both in its length and for the murals inside of the gate. Usually, it is customary just to have either statues or paintings of the Cheonwang (Heavenly Kings) inside the gate; however, the Cheonwang paintings that immediately greet you at the gate are joined by murals of the Nahan (The Disciples of the Historical Buddha).

After passing through the temple gate, you’ll be greeted by the beautifully manicured grounds. The lead up to the temple courtyard was a bit of a precursor, but it doesn’t really prepare you for the greenery of the courtyard. To your immediate right and left are the monks facilities like their dorms, kitchen, and administrative office. Straight ahead, and halfway between the temple gate and the main hall is a three-tiered pagoda slightly to the right. In the style of the Unified Silla period, this pagoda is joined by surrounding white and pink lotus flowers that were fully in bloom when I visited the temple.

Beyond the pagoda is the beautifully situated main hall. Around its exterior walls are the decorative Shimu-do (Ox-Herding) murals that are customarily designed. The eaves of the exterior are adorned with various Nahan, Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas, as well as extremely ornate dragon-heads. As for the atypical interior of the main hall, and sitting on the main altar, is a triad centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s flanked by a green-haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the left and a statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right. They are joined by a beautiful guardian mural on the far right of the main hall wall, as well as a stately statue of Dongjin-bosal (The Bodhisattva that Protects the Buddha’s Teachings). This mural interrupts the flow of Palsang-do murals that line the interior walls of the main hall. Starting from the right side of the main altar, and winding its way around the interior, the Palsang-do murals that depict the eight stages of Seokgamoni-bul’s life finish to the left of the main altar. These murals are beautifully executed and a worth a second look.

The final hall of any significance at Miraesa Temple is the hall to the left of the main hall. This hall is dedicated to the famous monks that have resided at Miraesa Temple. Lining the walls of this hall are the customary Buddhist paintings of prominent monks.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Miraesa Temple, you’ll first have to get to Tongyeong and the Tongyeong Intercity Bus Terminal. From the Tongyeong Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll have to take city bus #105. From the Intercity Bus Station to the Miraesa Temple entrance stop, you’ll have to ride the bus for 43 stops. And then from the stop, you’ll have to walk 2 kilometres up hill. You can either walk it or take a taxi, which should only cost you the starting fare.

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OVERALL RATING: 7/10. Beautifully situated and beautifully maintained, Miraesa Temple is definitely the highlight to the temples located in Tongyeong. From its beautifully manicured grounds, to the lotus flowers that bloom next to the three-tiered pagoda, to the pond out in front of the temple, Miraesa Temple has a lot of natural beauty that can and should be enjoyed. Add into the mix the atypical interior of the main hall that is adorned with the Palsang-do murals, as well as the stunning guardian mural, and you have more than enough reason to visit the little known Miraesa Temple.

The path that leads up to the temple.
The pond and dragon bridge that welcome you to the temple.
The complimentary wheelchairs.
The atypical gate at Miraesa Temple.
An up-close of one of the Heavenly Kings adorning the interior wall of the gate.
The gravel path that leads past the three tiered pagoda and onto the main hall.
The view across the main hall out onto the courtyard.
A look at the main altar with the framing Palsang-do murals both to the right and left of the triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha).
The guardian mural with the stoic Dongjin-bosal out in front of the painting.
One of the most elaborate final murals in the set of Palsang-do murals that I have yet to see.
A look over at the hall that houses the paintings that commemorate the lives of prominent monks at the temple.
And a look inside that hall at the monks’ paintings.
One last look across the temple courtyard before heading home.
And a look at a stunning pink lotus flower fully in bloom next to the temple pagoda.
As well as a gorgeous pinkish white lotus flower.

Yonghwasa Temple – 용화사 (Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do)


The temple courtyard at Yonghwasa Temple in Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone,

A city I had long wanted to visit was the picturesque city of Tongyeong along the coastal waters of Gyeongsangnam-do. And what better way to visit a city than to see a couple of the local temples. So with Yonghwasa Temple seemingly the pick of the litter, I decided to go.

Neighbouring a nearby park, and soaring above the city, is Yonghwasa Temple (용화사). Yonghwasa Temple dates back to 632, when it was first called Cheongsusa Temple. However, it’s name was changed to its present name in 1628 after a devastating fire destroyed the temple complex. Most of the present buildings date back to the 19th century.

When you first arrive at the temple, you’ll be greeted by a couple unique stone structures on the lower terrace. The first is a four-headed turtle stele. It’s joined to the left by a replica of the Asoka Pillar. It was built after a temple monk visited India in the 1960s. The pillar stretches high into the sky, and the Asoka Pillar is an exact replica of the original all except for the stone ball built on top of the pillar.

Further along, and to the left, you’ll enter into the main temple courtyard. To your immediate right in the compact temple courtyard is the administrative offices at Yonghwasa Temple. To the left, and rather uniquely, is a plain looking building that actually acts as the Myeongbu-jeon Judgment Hall at the temple. Usually a Myeongbu-jeon is ornately decorated with grotesque paintings of the dead being judged. However, this hall at Yonghwasa Temple is natural in appearance with a plain white coat of paint around its exterior. As for the low-ceilinged interior of the Myeongbu-jeon Hall, it’s packed with the 10 Kings of the Underworld as well as Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Underworld) that sits on the main altar. The statues that depict the 10 Kings of the Underworld are rather old looking even if the hall may not be.

The final building of any significance at the temple is the main hall. While compact in size, much like the rest of the temple, the main hall is packed with a lot of stuff. First, sitting on the glass-encased main altar are a triad of statues. Sitting in the centre is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s flanked by Daesaeji-bosal (The Power and Wisdom of Amita-bul), as well as Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). To the left of the main altar are two shaman deity murals. The first, and perhaps more impressive, is the San shin (The Mountain Spirit) mural. He’s joined by a mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). And to the immediate right of the main altar is a mural dedicated to Dokseong (The Recluse). The final mural inside the main hall, and next to the Dokseong mural, is the guardian mural. This mural is both older and large in size.

As for the rest of the temple compound, there does seem to be a bit of newer construction going on at Yonghwasa Temple. There appears to be two new shrine halls being built to the left of the main hall. And a bit further to the left of these yet to be finished shrine halls is what looks to be a retirement home.

HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll have to get to Tongyeong Intercity Bus Terminal (통영 종합 버스 터미널 – Tongyeong Jonghap Bus Terminal) to get to Yonghwasa Temple. From the Tongyeong Intercity Bus Terminal, you can catch city bus #231. In total, you’ll have to stay on the bus for 28 stops. Eventually, you’ll arrive at the Yonghwasa Temple stop. After you get off at this stop, you’ll have to walk 10 to 15 minutes, or 400 metres, to get to Yonghwasa Temple.

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OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. While not the largest, nor the most impressive temple you’ll see in South Korea, there are still quite a few things to see at Yonghwasa Temple. Good examples of the temples originality are the Asoka Pillar replica, the four-headed stele next to the pillar, the San shin mural, and the statues of the 10 Kings of the Underworld inside the newer looking Myeongbu-jeon Judgment Hall.

The entrance to the temple grounds.
The replica of the Asoka Pillar and the four-headed turtle stele to the right of it.
The view as you enter into the temple courtyard. With the main hall in the centre and the Myeongbu-jeon Judgment Hall to the left.
A look inside the atypical Myeongbu-jeon Hall. Sitting on the altar is a statue of Jijang-bosal and he’s surrounded by the 10 Kings of the Underworld as well as various guardians.
A look at the various statues inside the hall.
A better look at just one of the 10 Kings of the Underworld.
The glass encased statue of the golden Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).
A look inside the main hall at the altar inside of it. Sitting in the centre is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). And he’s joined by Daesaeji-bosal and Gwanseeum-bosal.
A look at the realistic painting of San shin (The Mountain Spirit) to the left of the main altar.
To the right of the main altar is this statue and painting of Dokseong (The Recluse).
And on the far right wall of the main hall is this older looking guardian mural.
A look at the temple courtyard from the entrance of the main hall.
A painting of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) that adorns the exterior eaves of the main hall.
A Fish-Shaped wind chime that adorns the main hall under a beautiful blue sky.
And lastly, the two new shrine halls that are still under construction at Yonghwasa Temple.