The Korean’s Bucket List, Ganwolam Hermitage(간월암) by the West coast of South Korea

The ebb and flow of the tide,
The island where becomes to be a floating lotus thanks to the gravitation of the moon every day.
A single photo in the newspaper led me up to this small island. In fact, I had been good image about this island for a long time ever after read in some long novel. It was left to me as the image of distant longing must to go in sometimes.
Long long time ago, at first this was called as the name of ‘nirvana temple’, temple of having the eternal truth in this imperfect suffering world. After that this got new name of Ganwolam hermitage(600 years ago). The name was originated from that Zen master Muhak(1327-1405) who was the royal master of King Taejo who was the founder of Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897). He got enlightenment to see the moon at this temple according to the historic record. 'Ganwol' means ‘looking the moon’. What romantic scene it was! Ironically, this temple was closed due to the depreciation of Buddhism of Joseon Dynasty until 1941 when the grand Zen master Mangong (만공선사) rebuilt this one. This is located in, West coast of Korea, Ganwoldo-ri, Seosan-city, Chungcheongnamdo Province(충청남도).
This hermitage was situated on the big rock and looked like just the foot of the Ganwoldo island(간월도) which became to a land in 1980 by the reclamation project in Cheonsu Bay, the largest migratory bird habitat in Asia. This was so famous for fresh oyster that the Zen master Muhak laid these oysters at King’s foot with gifts. Still there are many famous restaurant where cooks meal with oyster at the entrance zone. Each year, people use to have village ritual to pray a good harvest on the date of 15th January (lunar day) at the front of oyster memorial tower in this village. This was very tiny and cozy hermitage on the small rocky islet as you can see. This bottom of the rock was submerged by the sea when the tide is high every day as if it, with a good grace, isolated from the bustling human world.


The rusty bronze roof tiles


Each one composing this temple was tiny up to its hermitage size. Those bronze roof tiles turned into rusty color by the sea winds. Even what the colors on it looked natural enough to match to this hermitage. When I saw this roof, I figured out something different on its' position compared with other temple. In general, the wishes on the each tile(people bought the tile and wrote their wishes on the tile) were written on the bottom side. But in here it was up- side down. So I asked the monk whether something special reason was in or not. The answer was so simple.“When received from beginning, we got a mistake to write on the upper side. So we laid it as it was.” Foolish question, smart answer !!!  Everything should be natural as it was. Beyond the stereotype. This has attracted so long time not only many people but also monks. Island has been regarded as the symbol of the absolute solitude and the site of training for the eternal truth to the monks. At addition, Especially here is famous for not only the beautiful sunset shooting spot but also moonlit reflects off the sea.
Novelist Inho Choi, 1945-2013, being loved to Korean reader even after his death, the famous notable one in Korea, got Eungwan Order of the Cultural Merit for the high artistic recognition, wrote famous novel ‘Road without Road’. In this novel, hero reminded of some Buddhist wording in the Dhammapada (법구경), a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse form and one of the most widely read and best known Buddhist scriptures, in the front yard of this temple. Those are as follows.
The night is too long for a person who is not able to sleep
As if the road is too far for a wayfarer who is tired
To a fool who don’t know the truth
The road of live and death is long and far.
 Please check the time of tide when you are planning to visit. Here is not good to go by the public transportation. Despite of this inconvenient condition, I want to strongly recommend this place you must go in Korea for the enchanting sunset. Photographer said that winter is the best season to take a picture of sunset.
  How to get there; Seoul Cental city terminal >>Seosan(서산)
.                            >>Ganwoldo-ri bus stop by bus #610 (total 3hrs 30 mins at least)

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댓글 4개:

  1. Hi Thanks for info. What a great job & nice touch.

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  2. to Gemma G
    Hope to enjoy this stuff, thanks. Be a good day.
    I visited there twice because of missing camera on a first day.
    The last photo was taken on a same that day amazingly by my mobile i-phone.
    The others were taken two days later.

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  3. Amazing Landscapes and nice explanation. It attract s me to visit there.

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  4. +GyongSUk Kang
    I can dare to say that this is the best enchanting sunset place in Korea.
    This is the islet must to go and worth it.
    Check the tide when you have a plan to go,please.

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