• Jeollabuk-do

    Dongguksa Temple – 동국사 (Gunsan, Jeollabuk-do)

    Temple History Dongguksa Temple is located in Gunsan, Jeollabuk-do. What sets this Buddhist temple apart from all other Buddhist temples in Korea is that it’s the only temple still in existence, and operating, that was built by the Japanese during Japanese Colonial rule (1910-1945). With the opening of the port in Busan in 1877, after the signing of the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1876, not only did it open Korea up for trade and exploitation, but it also allowed Japanese Buddhism to enter Korea, as well. This was done at the request of the Japanese government. And in 1904, a form of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism began missionary work in Gunsan.…

  • Busan

    Dongmyeong Bulwon – 동명불원 (Nam-gu, Busan)

    Temple History Dongmyeong Bulwon is located in the southern part of Busan in Nam-gu. In fact, it’s situated just south of the U.N. Cemetery in Busan and just north of Mt. Bongorisan (173.3 m). The name of the temple might sound a bit strange because it doesn’t end with the common “sa” suffix. Instead, the temple is considered a “Bulwon” which means “The Buddha’s Oath” in English. What this specifically means is a reference to the Buddha making an oath to save all sentient beings. Dongmyeong Bulwon is a modern temple. It was first opened on May 22nd, 1977. In total, the Dongmyeong Bulwon grounds measure 2,700 pyeong, or 9,000…

  • Gyeongju

    Rock-Carved Seated Buddha in Bulgok Valley of Namsan Mountain – 남산불곡석불좌상 (Gyeongju)

    The History and Design of the Statue Officially, this statue is known as the Rock-Carved Seated Buddha in Bulgok Valley of Namsan Mountain – 남산불곡석불좌상, and it’s located on the north-east side of the historic Mt. Namsan (494 m) in Gyeongju. In fact, the name of the valley, which means “Buddha Valley” in English, is named after this statue. This statue is also known as the Bucheogol Halmae, or the “Buddha Valley Grandmother” in English. While little visited, women continue to pray at this shrine to have their wishes come true. You’ll first approach the one metre tall statue of the Buddha up a trail that leads through a bamboo…

  • Gyeongju

    Baengnyulsa Temple – 백률사 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History Baengnyulsa Temple is located just to the north of Bunhwangsa Temple in Gyeongju on Mt. Sogeumgangsan (176.7 m). Supposedly, and according to the Samguk Yusa, the temple was built to commemorate the martyrdom of Ichadon (501 – 527 A.D.). Originally, the temple was called Jachusa Temple. In English, “ja” means “pine nuts,” while “chu” means “chestnut.” Later Jachusa Temple changed its name to Baengnyulsa Temple. It was common at this time in Korean history, during the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.), that if a temple had the same sound and/or meaning, the name of the temple could change. With this in mind, “baek” means “pine nut”…

  • Gyeongju

    Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site – 정혜사지 (Gyeongju)

    Temple Site History The Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site is located in a long valley in northern Gyeongju east of Mt. Jaoksan (569.9 m) and Mt. Dodeoksan (707.5 m). The Jeonghyesa Temple Site is home to one of the most unique pagodas that you’ll find in Korea. The Thirteen-Story Stone Pagoda at Jeonghyesa Temple Site is also National Treasure #40. As for the history of the actual temple, there is very little known about it. With that being said, historians assume that Jeonghyesa Temple existed during the Later Silla Dynasty (668-935), but there’s no specific foundation year to this temple. It’s also known that Jeonghyesa Temple existed during the mid-Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).…

  • Gyeongju

    Wolji Pond – 월지 (Gyeongju)

    History of Wolji Pond Since the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Wolji Pond was known as Anapji Pond. The name Anapji is a combination of three Chinese characters: “An – 雁,” which means “goose” in English; “Ap – 鴨,” which means “duck,” and “Ji – 池,” which means “pond” in English. The reason for this name is that after Later Silla collapsed (668-935 A.D.), and Donggung Palace was abandoned, the pond was occupied by wild geese, ducks, and reeds. During the excavation of Wolji Pond, a lock with the inscription “Donggunga” on it suggested that the pond’s original name was Wolji. The reason for this is that the name “Donggunga” was in…

  • Artwork

    Yunjangdae – Revolving Scriptures Library Pillar: 윤장대

    Introduction Perhaps the most obscure piece of artwork that you’ll find at a Korean Buddhist temple is the Yunjangdae, or “Revolving Scriptures Library Pillar.” In all of my travels, which now exceeds five hundred temples and hermitages, I’ve only encountered these beautiful libraries at three Korean Buddhist temples. So where can you find them? What do they look like? And why are they there? Yunjangdae Design The Yunjangdae, which is also known as a Jeonryunjang, is a colourfully painted library that houses Buddhist texts inside a wooden pillar. The Yunjangdae is rooted to the ground, but it has the ability to rotate caused by a spinning base. It can also…

  • Busan

    Haeunjeongsa Temple – 해운정사 (Haeundae-gu, Busan)

    Temple History Hyanggok-seonsa (1912-1978), who was the founding monk of Haeunjeongsa Temple, was wandering all over Korea in an attempt to find a perfect place to build a temple. And the reason that Hyanggok-seonsa wanted to build a temple is that he wanted to help rescue people’s souls. Eventually, he arrived in Haeundae, Busan. More specifically, he found the perfect place for a temple at the base of Mt. Jangsan (634 m) to the south and east of the diminutive Mt. Bongdaesan (147.7 m). The reason that Hyanggok-seonsa decided to build Haeungjeongsa Temple where it’s located is that he believed that Mt. Jangsan looked like a seated female lion. And…

  • Artwork

    Gwangbae and Geosingwang – The Nimbus and Mandorla: 광배 & 거신광

    Introduction It’s common to see either the body or head (or both) of a Buddha or Bodhisattva at a Korean Buddhist temple have a circular nimbus or boat-like shaped mandorla surrounding it. Both shapes are loaded with symbolic meaning. So why do they appear in Buddhist artwork like in statues or paintings? And what do they mean? Gwangbae and Geosingwang Design In Korean, the round nimbus around the head of a Buddha or Bodhisattva is known as a “Gwangbae – 광배.” And the boat-like shaped mandorla around the head and body of a Buddha or Bodhisattva is called a “Geosingwang – 거신광” in Korean. In India, the nimbus is traditionally…

  • Daegu

    Namjijangsa Temple – 남지장사 (Dalseong-gun, Daegu)

    This posts contains affiliate links. I receive a percentage of sales, if you purchase the item after clicking on an advertising link at no expense to you. This will help keep the website running. Thanks, as always, for your support! Temple History Namjijangsa Temple is located in the southern part of Daegu in Dalseong-gun. More specifically, the temple is located to the south-east of the towering Mt. Choijeongsan (905 m). As for the name of the temple, Namjijangsa Temple means “South Jijang Temple” in English, which is in reference to the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife: Jijang-bosal. And the temple is a counterpart to Bukjijangsa Temple in neighbouring Dong-gu, Daegu. Namjijangsa…