• Busan

    Unsusa Temple – 운수사 (Sasang-gu, Busan)

    Temple History Unsusa Temple, which means “Cloud Water Temple” in English, is located in Sasang-gu, Busan. Specifically, Unsusa Temple is situated to the west of the peaks of Mt. Baekyangsan (641.3 m). As for the name of the temple, it’s in reference to the temple being elevated up near the clouds on Mt. Baekyangsan with a view out towards the East Sea. While the exact date of when Unsusa Temple was first built is unknown, it’s believed to have been first constructed in the early 9th century by Doui-guksa. From its origins, Unsusa Temple grew to be quite large, far larger than it is today. Roof tiles were discovered on…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Cheoneunsa Temple – 천은사 (Gurye, Jeollanam-do)

    Temple History Cheoneunsa Temple is located northwest of the famed Hwaeomsa Temple in Gurye, Jeollanam-do. Cheoneunsa Temple is one of the three major temples located inside Jirisan National Park grounds alongside Ssanggyesa Temple and the aforementioned Hwaeomsa Temple. Cheoneunsa Temple, which means “Hidden Spring Temple” in English, was first founded in 828 A.D. Cheoneunsa Temple was founded by an Indian monk named Deokun. At this time, the temple was known as Gamnosa Temple. It was called Gamnosa Temple because of the spring water that people could drink from in front of the Geukrakbo-jeon Hall. Purportedly, this spring water could clear your mind because it was both clean and cold like…

  • Busan

    Jangansa Temple – 장안사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

    Temple History Jangansa Temple in Gijang-gun, Busan is located at the foot of Mt. Bulgwangsan (659 m). The name of the temple comes from the local area of Jangan-eup, which is where the temple is located. Specifically, Jangansa means “Inside the Castle Temple” in English. The temple was first founded in 673 A.D. by the famed monk Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.). At first, the temple was known as Ssanggyesa Temple, which means “Twin Stream Temple” in English. The temple later changed its name to its current name of Jangansa Temple in 809 A.D. after King Aejang of Silla (r. 800-809) visited the temple. In total, and according to records, Wonhyo-daesa built…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Mihwangsa Temple – 미황사 (Haenam, Jeollanam-do)

    Temple History Mihwangsa Temple, which means “Beautiful Yellow Temple” in English, is located in Haenam, Jeollanam-do. According to the temple myth from the Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms), which is one of the more interesting temple myths that you’ll find in Korea, Mihwangsa Temple was first founded in 749 A.D. Mihwangsa Temple, which is located to the west of Mt. Dalmasan (489 m), is the southernmost temple on the mainland Korean peninsula. Also, Mihwangsa Temple enjoys beautiful views of the South Sea off in the distance. As for the creation myth surrounding Mihwangsa Temple, which also gives the temple its name, it’s definitely one of the most intriguing…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Dogapsa Temple – 도갑사 (Yeongam, Jeollanam-do)

    Temple History Dogapsa Temple is located in Yeongam, Jeollanam-do in Wolchulsan National Park. The temple was established in 880 A.D. by Doseon-guksa (827-898 A.D.). Originally, the temple site was home to a temple called Munsusa Temple, which was named after the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Munsu-bosal. In fact, during a recent excavation that took place in 1999, there were roof tiles that date back to the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. to 660 A.D.) that were discovered to the rear of the temple grounds. This helped prove that a temple existed on the site that Dogapsa Temple now occupies predating Later Silla (668-935 A.D.). Munsusa Temple was where Doseon-guksa spent his childhood.…

  • Artwork

    Shinjung Taenghwa – The Guardian Mural: 신중 탱화

    Introduction The Shinjung Taenghwa is one of the most popular murals that you’ll find at a Korean Buddhist temple. In English, the Shinjung Taenghwa means “Altar Painting of Guardian Deities,” or the “Guardian Mural” for short. This mural is highly intricate. So what exactly does a Shinjung Taenghwa look like? Where can you find it? And what does it all mean? Shinjung Taenghwa Design The Shinjung Taenghwa is a relatively large sized mural. It can either be a mural or a wood relief. The Shinjung Taenghwa is typically found inside a temple’s main hall; however, this doesn’t preclude them from being found inside other temple shrine halls. The Shinjung Taenghwa…

  • Beomeosa,  Busan

    Cheongryeonam Hermitage – 청련암 (Geumjeong-gu, Busan)

    Hermitage History Cheongryeonam Hermitage, which means “Blue Lotus Hermitage” in English, is located on the Beomeosa Temple grounds in Geumjeong-gu, Busan. Of the eleven hermitages on the expansive Beomeosa Temple grounds, Cheongryeonam Hermitage is the closest to the main temple. It’s unknown as to when Cheongryeonam Hermitage was first built; however, records indicated that the hermitage was rebuilt in 1709 by the monk Shinju-daesa. It’s believed that Cheongryeonam Hermitage was rebuilt around the same time as other hermitages at Beomeosa Temple. But Cheongryeonam Hermitage is perhaps best known for reviving Seonmudo (The Way of War for Seon), which is a type of Korean martial arts. Officially, Seonmudo is known as…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Borimsa Temple – 보림사 (Jangheung, Jeollanam-do)

    Temple History Borimsa Temple, which means “Treasure Forest Temple” in English, is located in Jangheung, Jeollanam-do. Located just south of Mt. Gajisan (509.9 m), Borimsa Temple was first established in 759 A.D. by the monk Wonpyo-daedeok. At this time, the temple was nothing more than a hermitage, and it was called Gajisansa Temple. Like all great temples in Korea, Borimsa Temple has an interesting creation myth. One day, after returning to the Korean peninsula after studying in both India and China, Wonpyo-daedeok was looking for a place to construct a temple. He visited Mt. Gajisan (not to be confused with the one in Ulsan). While traveling around this location, a…

  • Busan

    Seonamsa Temple – 선암사 (Busanjin-gu, Busan)

    Temple History Seonamsa Temple is located in Busanjin-gu, Busan on Mt. Baekyangsan (642 m). There is some dispute as to when Seonamsa Temple was first built, but it’s estimated to have first been built during Later Silla (668-935 A.D.). According to one legend, Baekyangsa Temple was first established by the famed monk Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.) in 675 A.D. Originally, the temple was called Gyeongangsa Temple. Before the 15th century, the temple was relocated to its current location and renamed Seonamsa Temple. In fact, it was renamed Seonamsa Temple in 1483 by the monk Gakcho. Seonamsa Temple, in English, means “Immortal Rock Temple.” The name is in reference to its current…

  • Artwork

    Gamno-do – The Sweet Dew Mural: 감로도

    Introduction One of the more difficult Buddhist murals to find at a Korean Buddhist temple is the Gamno-do, or “Sweet Dew Mural” in English. In fact, I’ve only ever seen this mural at a handful of temples and hermitages in all of my travels. So what is a Gamno-do? What does it look like? And what is it supposed to mean? Gamno-do Design A Gamno-do depicts the Ullambana Sutra. Other names for this type of painting is “Gamnowang-do” or “Gamno-taenghwa.” The Gamno-do is used in the Sweet Dew Ceremony for the dead. Prayers are said by those alive to help and comfort the souls of dead ancestors already in the…