Unsuam Hermitage – 운수암 (Gimcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

Unsuam Hermitage on the Jikjisa Temple Grounds in Gimcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hermitage History

Unsuam Hermitage is located on the Jikjisa Temple grounds in Gimcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do. The hermitage is beautifully located near the peak of Mt. Hwangaksan (1,111.3 m), and to the west of Jikjisa Temple. It’s unclear when the hermitage was first founded. Unsuam Hermitage is one of seven hermitages on the Jikjisa Temple grounds.

Hermitage Layout

From the hermitage parking lot, you’ll follow the road up towards the hermitage grounds first to the left and then to the right. The first building to greet you at Unsuam Hermitage are the monks’ dorms and the hermitage’s kitchen. Beyond this, you’ll find the main hall at the hermitage.

The exterior of the Geukrakbo-jeon Hall is adorned with various Buddhist related murals that include the Bodhidharma and Dazu Huike (487-593 A.D.). On either side of the main hall’s front signboard, you’ll find two ferocious dragon-heads. Additionally, if you look up at the roof of the structure, you’ll find golden Gwimyeon (Monster Masks). Stepping inside the Geukrakbo-jeon Hall, there’s a main altar triad underneath a large, red datjib (canopy). The central image of this triad is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise), who is joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). To the right of the main altar is a large, modern Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural).

Out in front of the Geukrakbo-jeon Hall, you’ll find a three-story pagoda that looks to be a blend of both new and old. The base of the pagoda looks much older than the body of the stone structure. As for the roof stones of the pagoda, and like the base, they appear to be older in composition. It’s unknown just how old they might be. And between this pagoda and the main hall, you’ll find a pair of modern seokdeung (stone lanterns).

To the right of the Geukrakbo-jeon Hall, and up a pathway, you’ll find the Sanshin-gak Hall. The exterior walls of this shaman shrine hall are adorned with murals of white cranes, a Sanshin-like figure, and two Sinseon (Taoist Immortals). Stepping inside the Sanshin-gak Hall, you’ll find a stunning older mural dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). Sanshin holds a wooden staff, while the tiger at his side has an almost inquisitive expression on its face.

How To Get There

From the Gimcheon train station, you can catch local buses to Jikjisa Temple. You can catch Bus #11, #111, or #112 from the Intercity Bus Terminal that’s next to the train station parking lot. The bus ride should take anywhere from ten to twenty minutes to get to Jikjisa Temple. You can take a bus, or you can simply take a taxi. And if you’re traveling in a group, perhaps this mode of transportation is preferable. The taxi ride should cost about 10,000 won (one way). From where the bus drops you off at the bus stop, the walk up to the temple takes about fifteen minutes. From Jikjisa Temple, you’ll need to continue west. The hermitage signs along the way should guide you the rest of the way. In total, the hike should take about one hour over 2 kilometres mostly uphill.

Overall Rating: 3.5/10

Unsuam Hermitage is a smaller hermitage with just a couple of shrine halls for visitors to explore. But both of these shrine halls are quite nice both inside and out. The exterior of the Geukrakbo-jeon Hall is stunning. And the main altar triad inside rests under one of the more impressive datjib (canopy) that you’ll find at any temple or hermitage in Korea. The mural dedicated to Sanshin inside the Sanshin-gak Hall is quite impressive. And there’s also a nice view of the valley below to enjoy, as well.

Heading up to the hermitage grounds.
The view of the valley below from Unsuam Hermitage.
A look towards the hermitage grounds at Unsuam Hermitage.
A stunning painting that adorns the monks’ dorms.
The Geukrakbo-jeon Hall and the oldish-new three-story pagoda.
Just the Geukrakbo-jeon Hall.
The two fierce dragon-heads on either side of the main hall’s signboard.
One of the paintings that adorns the main hall. This one is dedicated to the Bodhidharma and Dazu Huike.
The main altar inside the Geukrakbo-jeon Hall.
The Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural) inside the Geukrakbo-jeon Hall.
The view from the Geukrakbo-jeon Hall.
Making your way up towards the Sanshin-gak Hall at the side of the Geukrakbo-jeon Hall.
The Sanshin-gak Hall.
The Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) painting inside the shaman shrine hall.