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Temple by the Sea

Haedong Yonggungsa, Busan, by Jamie Vickers

“If you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all!” is something I’ve heard many people say when talking about temples in Korea, but I would even urge the Korean temple naysayers out there to take a trip to Yonggungsa, a temple by the sea.

 

It’s not the biggest of temples; it’s not the most ornately decorated. But Yonggungsa stands on the coast with the waves lapping up against its foundations and it is one the most beautifully situated temples I have seen in Korea. Yonggungsa was founded in 1376 but was rebuilt in the 1970’s as many have been.  This temple is also said to have been built in honour of the divine sea god of the East Sea who visited the Buddhist teacher Naong during the Goryeo dynasty.

Even if you don’t manage to catch a glimpse of that all too familiar sight of Buddhist spirits riding off over the coast on their sea dragons, this temple is still well worth a visit for the views alone.

Yonggungsa is within easy reach of both Ulsan and Busan. Coming from Ulsan, you should first head to Haeundae taking either the train from Taehwagang station to Haeundae station or the bus from the intercity bus terminal in Ulsan to Haeundae bus terminal; both are only a short walk from the subway station. Once you are in Haeundae, Yonggungsa is just a 20 minute bus ride on the 181, which you can catch from the steps of exit 7 of Haeundae subway station.

From there the bus leaves dynamic Busan behind, winds through a few coastal towns and you need only wait until you hear Yonggungsa over the speakers before you hit the bell and you arrive outside at the entrance of the temple area. And with preparations for Buddha’s birthday under way, now is the perfect time to go and see Yonggungsa by the sea.

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