Not far from our home in Hwasoon is a temple known as Unjusa. Besides being in a typically beautiful spot for a temple, it has a rather unique legend attached to it. Long ago, some superstitious Koreans decided that the peninsula was unbalanced, with more mountains in the southeastern areas than the southwest. To prevent the country from capsizing, thousands of stone Buddha statues and pagodas were erected in the southwest. Unjusa was apparently one of the pivotal balance points, because at one point it boasted the largest amassing of pagodas and statuary in the country. Despite periodic sackings by the Japanese, Unjusa still has an impressive collection. We headed over there one overcast Saturday afternoon with our former teaching colleague from Taejon, Cho Sang-mi, who was visiting for the weekend.

A first glance at the grounds.
Cheris and Sang-mi.
Korean temples are always built near natural springs. Here's one of the more creative ways to dispense the drinking water.
Large and in charge.
Forever lounging atop a small hill next to the temple, the "reclining twin Buddhas" are one of the main attractions for visitors to Unjusa.
And here they are again, of course.
Cheris discovered still more statues on the way down the hill.

     We made our second trip to Unjusa with our buddies Scott and Noelle sometime in the early summer of 2000. All the sights there are tough to resist as photo subjects, so here are several more shots of the place.

Pagodas flank this very interesting and uncommon double-sided "Buddha house" as Scott and Noelle stroll about.
Sure, this is almost identical to the first one, but Rob couldn't resist putting this on the site too because it shows the full height and shape of the foreground pagoda.
Jars for fermenting kimchi and other vegetables, and storing all sorts of other stuff.
Another unusual circular pagoda sits behind the more traditional one up front.
Offerings left among the rocks at the foot of the pagoda.
Some very serious tranquility going on here.
Scott and Noelle checking out the view from the top of the temple's adjacent hill.
A look across the grounds near the temple shows the statues and pagodas littered everywhere.
On the way down the hill, six of these giant stone disks like the one under Cheris are laid out in the shape of the Big Dipper. We're not sure why, but it looks pretty cool.
We sat down in the tall grass near the temple entrance for a while before leaving....
...and got a friendly visit from this cute little family from Kwangju.

     We went back to this temple a third time for the Buddha's Birthday 2001 festivities. Just as we'd seen on this holiday in the two previous years, there were lanterns strung up all over the grounds, which we all helped to light as darkness fell. It was a gorgeous spring day and an even more beautiful evening as the candles lit up the valley. We had a great time, and even got a few decent pictures of the lanterns in the darkness.

the Kwangju Chronicles