Hyuhyuam Hermitage, which is located in Yangyang, Gangwon-do, means “Rest and Rest Again Hermitage,” in English. The name of the hermitage is in reference to resting the mind from distracting thoughts and feelings like hate, jealousy, and conflict. Initially, the hermitage was nothing more than a single shrine hall; but in 1999, the popularity of the hermitage started to grow with the discovery of a rock that looked like a reclining Buddha. There are other seaside rocks at Hyuhyuam Hermitage that have significance, as well. There’s the Haesu Gwaneum rock that looks like a statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). This rock looks like it’s holding a sugared bottle of water, while it lays down on a lotus flower. There’s another wide rock at Hyuhyuam Hermitage’s seaside location that looks like a turtle. This rock turtle also looks like it’s bowing towards the Buddha.
You first approach Hyuhyuam Hermitage from the compact temple parking lot, which tends to always be busy. A short distance up the pathway that leads into the hermitage grounds, you’ll find the Iljumun Gate. At the base of this gate you’ll find a pair of stone boars. Passing through this entry gate, you’ll be standing in the compact Hyuhyuam Hermitage courtyard.
Straight ahead of you is the Wontong-jeon Hall, which acts as the hermitage’s main hall. The exterior walls to the Wontong-jeon Hall are adorned with murals of youthful monks. As for the interior, and standing all alone on the main altar, is one of the most beautiful manifestations of Gwaneeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) that I’ve personally seen in Korea. The multi-armed and headed Gwanseeum-bosal 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. In addition to these paintings, you’ll also find images of people finding solace at the hermitage’s waters.
To the right of the Wontong-jeon Hall is a cave grotto that houses a collection of sari (crystallized remains), purportedly, of the Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). There is both an inner and outer chamber to this grotto. The outer grotto walls are covered in masterful murals dedicated to various Bodhisattvas and guardians. As for the inner chamber, and resting on the main altar, is a glass reliquary that contains a dozen sari under a colourful canopy.
As you make your way towards the lower courtyard from the main courtyard, you’ll pass by the monks dorms, a visitors centre, and an administration office at Hyuhyuam Hermitage. A little further along and you’ll next come to another hall dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). This Gwaneum-jeon Hall houses yet another masterful rendering of a standing Bodhisattva of Compassion. With a willow spray in hand, Gwanseeum-bosal is joined by a blue dragon at her feet. To the right of the main altar inside the Gwaneum-jeon Hall, you’ll find an amazing relief and statue dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). And to the left of the main altar you’ll find a Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural).
Having made your way past all of the shrine halls at Hyuhyuam Hermitage, the seaside view awaits you. Straight ahead is the temple’s Jong-ru (Bell Pavilion). And housed inside the Jong-ru Pavilion is the distinctly painted golden bell at the hermitage. It’s to the right of the Jong-ru Pavilion that you’ll see a large stone statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal. While not as masterful as the one found at the neighbouring Naksansa Temple, this statue of Gwanseeum-bosal is both beautiful and large in its own right. Standing on either side of the Bodhisattva of Compassion is a donja (attendant) and the largest statue of Yongwang (The Dragon King) that I’ve personally seen in Korea. Intricately carved, especially around its base, the Yongwang statue depicts aquatic reliefs of marine life. Also, and in additional to all this, there’s a mermaid wishing well in this part of the hermitage grounds.
There’s also a pathway that leads down to the sea from the Gwanseeum-bosal outdoor shrine and statue. At the end of this path, you get to enjoy the beautiful seaside views. There’s also a shrine dedicated to Yongwang in this part of the hermitage. At the centre of this shrine is a painting of the Dragon King.
How To Get There
From the Yangyang Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to board a bus bound for Jigyeong-ri. You’ll then need to take that bus for twenty-six stops. Get off at the Gwangjin-ri bus stop. From this bus stop, you’ll need to walk for four minutes to get to Hyuhyuam Hermitage.
Overall Rating: 8/10
What isn’t to love about this little known hermitage by the sea? From the beautiful interior of the Wontong-jeon Hall, to the grotto with the purported remains of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha), and the large outdoor shrine and statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion), you’ll need to make time for Hyuhyuam Hermitage the next time you’re in Yangyang, Gangwon-do.