Hyuhyuam Hermitage – 휴휴암 (Yangyang, Gangwon-do)


The Stone Shrine Dedicated to Yongwang and Gwanseeum-bosal at Hyuhyuam Hermitage in Yangyang, Gangwon-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

While in Yangyang, Gangwon-do, my mother-in-law suggested we visit Hyuhyuam Hermitage. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go after already visiting 5 temples that very same day; however, I was really happy that I ended up visiting this coastal hermitage.

You first approach the hermitage from a compact temple parking lot that always seems to be busy. A short distance away is the Iljumun Gate with stone boars at its base. Passing through this entry gate, you’ll be standing in the compact hermitage courtyard. If you go at the right time, you’ll be greeted by a friendly nun with a bird that talks (definitely a first for me!).

Straight ahead lays the Wontong-jeon main hall. The exterior walls are decorated with playful murals of youthful monks. As for the interior, and standing all alone on the main altar, is the most beautiful artistic manifestation of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) that I’ve personally seen at a Korean temple. The multi-armed and headed Bodhisattva is backed by a fiery nimbus and a masterful relief and canopy. To the right and left of the main altar are paintings of an angelic Gwanseeum-bosal and people finding solace at the hermitage’s waters.

To the right of the main hall is a cave like grotto that houses a collection of sari (crystallized remains), purportedly, from the Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul. There is both an inner and outer chamber to this grotto. The outside canvased surface to the grotto is covered in masterful paintings of guardians and Bodhisattvas. As for the inner, and resting on the main altar, is a glass vessel that contains a dozen sari under a colourful canopy.

As you make your way down from the upper courtyard to the lower, you’ll pass by the monks’ dorms, a visitors’ centre, and administration offices. A little further along, and you’ll next come to another hall dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal. This Gwaneeum-jeon houses yet another masterful rendering of a standing Gwanseeum-bosal. With willow spray in hand and a blue dragon at her feet, this Gwanseeum-bosal is yet another amazing feat in Buddhist artistry. To the right of the main altar is an amazing relief and statue of Yongwang (The Dragon King); while to the left rests a guardian relief.

Having made your way past this shrine hall, the ocean will finally come into view. Straight ahead is the temple’s bell pavilion with a rather uniquely painted golden bell inside. It’s to the right of the bell pavilion that you’ll see a large stone shrine dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal. While not as refined as the statue at the neighbouring Naksansa Temple, this one is both beautiful and large in its own right. Standing at either side of the Bodhisattva of Compassion is an attendant and the largest statue of Yongwang I have seen. Intricately carved around the base of all the statues are amazing, and I mean amazing, aquatic engravings of marine life. Also, there’s a mermaid wishing well.

There’s a way down to the ocean from this area. You can enjoy both the beautiful ocean side views and a shrine dedicated to Yongwang.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Yangyang Intercity Bus Terminal, you need to board the Jigyeong-ri bus. You’ll need to take it for 26 stops and then get off at the Gwangjin-ri bus stop. From there, you’ll then have to walk 4 more minutes to Hyuhyuam Hermitage.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10. What isn’t to love about this little known, but uniquely populated, hermitage by the sea? From the nun with a bird that speaks, to the stone grotto with the Buddha’s remains, the hermitage uniquely has it all. And when you couple it with the most beautiful statues of Gwanseeum-bosal in all of Korea, as well as the maritime statues of Yongwang and Gwanseeum-bosal, and you’ll need to add this little known hermitage to your list of things to see the next time you’re in the Gangwon-do area.


The Iljumun Gate that greets you at the hermitage entry.


A look inside the main hall at the splendour of Gwanseeum-bosal.


Some of the accompanying main hall artwork of Gwanseeum-bosal.


A look inside the cave grotto.


The Agwi artwork that adorns the grotto’s outer chamber.


As well as an image of Gwanseeum-bosal.


A look towards the inner chamber’s main altar.


A look at the glass vessel that houses a dozen of the Buddha’s sari.


The ocean side view and the Gwaneeum-jeon beside it.


The amazing main altar inside the Gwaneeum-jeon.


With Yongwang to the side.


A look back towards the temple grounds.


And a look towards the bell pavilion and Gwanseeum-bosal shrine.


The golden temple bell and fish gong.


A stone frog that looks like it might have jumped straight out of an animation.


The beautiful ocean view.


The Gwanseeum-bosal shrine.


The mermaid wishing well that joins them.


A Yongwang relief.


A whale relief that is etched at the base of the shrine.


Yet another amazing maritime relief.


And finally, at the base of the much larger statue, is an ornately etched Gwanseeum-bosal relief.

Naksansa Temple – 낙산사 (Yangyang, Gangwon-do)


The 18 Metre Tall Gwanseeum-bosal Statue at Naksansa Temple in Yangyang, Gangwon-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Naksansa Temple was first founded in 671 C.E. by the famed monk, Uisang-daesa. The name Naksansa Temple is an abbreviation of “Botarakgasan.” The name “Naksan” refers to Mt. Potalaka in India, where it’s believed that Gwanseeum-bosal (Avalokitesvara) lives. Gwanseeum-bosal is believed to live on an island surrounded by the sea along with guardian dragons. It’s along the coastal waters of Naksansa Temple in Yangyang, Gangwon-do that Uisang-daesa meditated. He had a visit from Gwanseeum-bosal who told Uisang to build a temple on Mt. Naksan, which is where the temple is located. Throughout the years, Naksansa Temple has been destroyed by fire more than most Korean temples. The temple was first destroyed by the invading Mongols during the 13th century. After that, it was repeatedly reconstructed and expanded by royal order in 1467, 1469, 1631, and 1643. After all this expansion, the temple was completely destroyed during the Korean War in 1953. It was from this period in time that most of the temple buildings dated back to, but it was the April, 2005 fire that was most damaging. It completely destroyed Naksansa Temple including a 15th century temple bell that just so happened to be a national treasure. Fortunately for us, the temple has been completely rebuilt for an all new generation of temple adventurers.

You make your way up to the temple from the temple parking lot. The well-manicured grounds are something to enjoy as you make your way to the temple grounds. The first thing to greet you at the temple is the fortress like entry gate.

Walking a little further, and finally cresting the hill that Naksansa Temple sits upon, you’ll notice the rebuilt bell pavilion to the far left side. Straight ahead is the Cheonwangmun Gate with the Four Heavenly Kings inside with bulging eyes. The next structure to greet you is the strangely shaped Binil-ru Pavilion that seems to be just as wide as it is long. Typically, these types of pavilions are rather long in length.

Having passed through the crescent-shaped gate, you’ll enter into the lower courtyard at Naksansa Temple. Other than collecting your breath or sitting to enjoy the view, there is nothing for a visitor to see. You’ll have to go a little further if you want to see anything.

Past a gate that is adorned with descriptive murals of both the guardians Heng and Ha is the upper courtyard. Resting in the middle of the upper courtyard is a seven-tier stone pagoda that was purportedly constructed, at least in part, by Uisang-daesa. Housed inside the ornately decorated Wontong-jeon main hall is a slender statue of Gwanseeum-bosal. With a large golden crown on her head, she sits all alone in the main hall.

However, the real highlight to this temple is the crowning Gwaseeum-bosal statue that’s called Haesugwaneumsang (해수관음입상). Standing 18 metres in height, the serene-looking Gwanseeum-bosal looks out towards the southeast. The peaceful, granite statue was first constructed in 1977 and it took 700 tons of granite to build. It’s perhaps the most beautiful of its kind in all of Korea.

After having seen the Haesugwaneumsang statue of Gwanseeum-bosal, you can take a path down towards the lower courtyard which houses the large sized Bota-jeon. The exterior walls to this hall are painted in some of the most original murals dedicated to Uisang-daesa in all of Korea. The murals cover the duration of the famed monk’s life like his voyage home with Lady Seonmyo at his back as he returns to Korea, as well as the floating rock mural from the establishment of Buseoksa Temple. Inside this hall are some of the 33 incarnations of Gwanseeum-bosal. They are both beautifully and masterfully executed. Out in front of the Bota-jeon is a seven-tier stone pagoda.

As you make your way out from the lower courtyard, you’ll notice a Myeongbu-jeon Hall to your left with the Boje-ru Pavilion straight ahead. It’s just past this two-story bell pavilion that you’ll come to a beautiful lotus pond. Sitting in the centre of this well stocked pond sits a stone statue of the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Naksansa Temple, you’ll first need to get to the Yangyang Intercity Bus Terminal. From there, you’ll need to take Bus #9 or #9-1 headed towards Naksansa Temple. The bus ride will take about 10 to 15 minutes. You can do that or simply take a taxi from the Yangyang Intercity Bus Terminal. The taxi should take about 10 minutes.

OVERALL RATING: 9/10. Of course the crowning Gwanseeum-bosal is the main highlight to Naksansa Temple. With its sheer size and serene beauty, it isn’t hard to tell. There are a few other highlights, as well, like the regal Gwanseeum-bosal inside the temple’s main hall and the beautifully manicured temple grounds. Also, the lower courtyard with the amazing Bota-jeon Hall and the lotus pond are pretty amazing in their own right. Add into the mix the scenic ocean views, and Naksansa Temple can make for a nice day trip in Gangwon-do.


Th scenic walk up to Naksansa Temple.


The entrance gate that greets you at the temple.


The Cheonwangmun Gate at the temple.


One of the eye-bulging Heavenly Kings.


The temple’s bell pavilion.


The crescent-shaped entryway to the Boje-ru.


A look up at the upper courtyard.


A look at the seven-tier stone pagoda in the upper courtyard.


A look up at a beautiful sky and the Wontong-jeon.


The main altar inside the Wontong-jeon.


The beautiful earthen fence and blue sky at Naksansa Temple.


The sites as you make your way towards Gwanseeum-bosal.


Gwanseeum-bosal coming into view.


The serene, and massive, granite statue of Gwanseeum-bosal.


A closer look upwards.


And the amazing view that Gwanseeum-bosal enjoys.


The path that leads down to the Bota-jeon.


The Bota-jeon Hall.


The Floating Rock scene from the establishment of Buseoksa Temple.


Uisang returning to the Korean peninsula.


A look inside the amazing Bota-jeon at Naksansa Temple.


The view from the Bota-jeon out towards the Myeongbu-jeon and the temple’s Boje-ru.


The amazing lotus pond at Naksansa Temple.


A better look at one of the white lotus flowers.