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Huyuam Hermitage

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Huyuam Hermitage (휴휴암; map) isn’t a thousand-year-old temple like Tongdosa, Bulguksa, or Naksansa just 23 kilometers up the road. This Buddhist retreat saw its first dawn in 1997 when Monk Hongbeop set up a small prayer hall on a hilltop overlooking Yangyang County’s East Sea coast.

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The founder named the hermitage “Huyuam,” which means “’Rest and Rest Again.” One of the closest Buddhist temples to the sea in Korea, he wanted Huyuam to be a place for people to throw away the stresses of their daily lives and sort out their inner spiritual world.

Huyuam was just a picturesque seaside meditation spot for a few years before it shot to fame in 1999. Visitors noticed that a rock in the waters at the foot of the hermitage resembled a reclining Avalokiteśvara (관세음보살), a bodhisattva associated with compassion. Since then, believers have traveled from around the country to the rock to perform rituals and make wishes.

Main Features

Huyuam Hermitage is a complex that features several buildings, statues, and a group of unique rocks near the East Sea. Let’s take a tour.

Yeonhwadae

Yeonhwadae (연화대) is a 50-meter wide, flat rock that hovers just above the surface of the East Sea below the main temple complex. Its name translates to “Lotus Flower Pedestal” because it resembles an oversized lotus flower. Visitors to Huyuam can hop across a small bridge onto the large rock to pray, relax, or perform rituals.

A collection of distinctive rock formations surround Yeonhwadae, including: Avalokiteśvara Rock — which made Huyuam Hermitage famous — Toe Rock, Footprint Rock, Fist Rock, and more.

In the clear waters below Yeonhwadae, there often swims schools of yellowtail, flatfish, and sea bream.

Avalokiteśvara Statue

An assemblage of statues stands on the hillside above Yeonhwadae. The central statue depicts Avalokiteśvara. Made of granite dug from the hillsides of Iksan City, it weighs 115 tons, stands 16 meters tall, and holds a golden book. Believers say the Avalokiteśvara statue grants knowledge to those lacking wisdom.

A troupe of statues surrounds the centerpiece Avalokiteśvara, including one of the East Sea Dragon King, an ancient king that transformed into a dragon to protect Korea’s coastline.

Buildings

Huyuam Hermitage’s buildings include several prayer halls, dorms, and a ceremonial bell. Let’s check them out.

  • Myojeokjeon (묘적전) was the first building built by Monk Hongbeop and still serves as Huyuam’s main hall. It houses a statue of Avalokiteśvara with a thousand eyes and ears.
  • Avalokiteśvara Hall sits below the main hall. It overlooks the East Sea and Yeonhwadae and keeps a statue of Avalokiteśvara riding a blue dragon.
  • Avalokiteśvara Bell is a large ceremonial bell in a pavilion near the Avalokiteśvara Statue.