Passing the Haeundae by far to the end of the Busan sea, there is the Haedong Yonggung Temple located in Gijang. When you say the word temple they are usually in the mountains, but the Haedong Yonggung Temple is a ‘Yonggung(underwater palace)’ just as its name. The merciful heart of Buddha is spread like the blue sea. Somewhere between late fall with yellow gingko trees and early winter, I visited the Haedong Yonggung Temple that ‘surely makes one wish come true.’
The Haedong Yonggung Temple has a quite long history, and it was founded by the great monk Naong, the consultant of King Gongmin in his 2nd year of Goryeo(1376). Then over a long period of time of 6 centuries, they are reconstructing buildings, enshrining a new pagoda and keep on developing the place. A lot of Buddhist events take place, and on Buddha’s Birthday in April the lotus lantern festival is held and presents a magnificent spectacle. In March of the lunar year they carry on a big ceremony for the Dragon King, and because the sunrise comes first here, the New Year festival is held on the 1st of January.
In order to go to the Yonggung Temple you have to take the number 181 bus. It is the best to take your own car or a taxi, but if you take a bus you can walk up slowly for about 10 minutes. The wind is a bit cold because the place meets the sea, so if you bring some warm clothes you can enjoy the great scenery and energy more comfortably.
Drowsing to the warm sunlight, before I knew it I arrived at the Yonggung Temple bus stop. There are small street vendors selling the ssiat hotteok, fish cake, kudzu juice and Buddhist goods lining the street. The place is quite noisy because of merchants and customers having friendly conversation. The first thing that greets us on our way to Yonggung Temple is the Twelve Zodiac Animal Deities. If you pass by the ‘Ibagu square’ which is a small square that guards the Twelve Zodiac Animal Deities, the traffic safety tower stands high. It is pretty unfamiliar and new to see the term traffic safety at a temple. They said that the Yonggung Temple is the only place that has a traffic safety tower. Indeed traffic is something that we cannot leave out from our daily lives, so it is not so strange to have a tower to wish so that we can use the traffic safely. The giant gingko tree and the blue sky get along beautifully with the tower.
As I mentioned before the slogan of the Haedong Yonggung Temple is ‘the place that surely makes one wish come true.’ So there are places to make a wish all over the place. People say if you touch the nose and the belly of the ‘deuknambul(statue for giving birth to a baby boy)’ you can give birth to a baby boy, so only those parts have become hand-stained. The ‘hageop seongchibul(scholastic achievement statue)’ that shows young monks reading books, and the ‘hwanggeum dweji(golden pig statue)’ that was made in the year 2008, the Year of the Golden Pig. The 108 longevity stairs that carry away agony, the basement mineral water that cures diseases, the samcheongji that tries one’s luck by throwing coins, and the heungryonggyo that becomes the ojakgyo(bridge that connects lovers) for lovers. Just circling around the temple once makes you feel lucky. The paper lanterns and the roof tiles are all full of people’s wishes. I guess all the wishes might be similar. Hoping for my dad’s business to go on well, hoping for my youngest daughter to go to a good university, hoping to love the person next to me here forever, hoping my parents to live a long and happy life, hoping my family to be healthy and happy….. If the wish that I have wished at Yonggung Temple comes true, it might not be just because of the energy of the temple. People that have visited from various places with a wish may have put on another stone on the big tower by heart. I didn’t come there to make a wish, but since I am here I thought that it would be nice if my wish would come true, so I repeated my wishes softly in my heart.
The Yonggung Temple is famous for its magnificent view. The harmony of the clear view of the ocean and the temple is new but also comfortable. If an underwater palace really did exist, will it be something like this? A splendid but simple temple, the chilsung tower that is high up to the back of the blue sky, and the pine tree that is spread out widely makes a beautiful harmony. Also the Haesu Gwaneum Daebul (Sea water Great Goddess Buddha) looks benevolently to the sea, and she is said to be a miraculous Buddha that makes your wish come true if you pray with all your might, so if you visit there don’t forget to make a wish. The Daeungbojeon located in the center of the temple was completed in March 2007 with the traditional style of Silla, and its dignity is great even from faraway but I recommend to go look at it from nearby. There isn’t any eave and rafter that were carelessly made. The patterns on the doors are plain fancy. But they are not luxurious or light so I looked at it for a long time.
Like this, the Haedong Yonggung Temple is a nice place to look at it from both faraway or from nearby. Since it is not that large, it is pretty leisurely to walk around slowly. It is a place where even street cats walk along the stone ways, so don’t hurry up and feel with your heart. So that the tired mind can take a rest at the sound of Gwanseumbosal(Avalokitesvara Guan Yin/the Goddess of Mercy) that echoes over the whole temple.