Jiri-san
Banya-bong
Myohyang-am
Korea's remotest temple, with the mystical fragrance of enlightened wisdom

the first glimpse of it thru the trees as you approach on the rocky trail:
Further in this Section --  
the Northwest Sector of Jiri-san:

Baemsa-gol Scenic Valley and Samdo-bong Peak
Banya-bong, Peak of Prajna
Shrines in the Unbong-myeon District
Deokchi-ri Pass on the Baekdu-daegan
Manbok-dae, Gori-bong, Segeol-bong,
Barae-bong and & Deokdu-bong
Hwangsan Victory Monument at Hwasu-ri Village
Pi-bawi Bloody Rock near Hwang-san
Myohyang-am  묘향암
Myo-hyang means "Mysterious Fragrance", a phrase referring to the subtlety of the sort of
wisdom that leads to and flows from enlightenment in the Diamond Sutra,
a key scripture of
Meditational Buddhism
(this is a recurrent theme all around Jiri-san).  The same name was given long ago
to the highly-sacred mountain-group up north of Pyeongyang City in North Korea,
Myohyang-san.

This one-building hermitage is perched at about 1500 meters on the eastern face of
Banya-bong Peak, far
above the very scenic
Baemsa-gol Valley, as a sub-temple under the control of Hwaeom-sa.  If that altitude is
correct then it is tied for the title of
"highest temple in South Korea" along with Taebaek-san Cheonje-dan
Manggyeong-sa.  Korean topographical maps were not even showing it until a decade or so ago, as it is so
remote -- it takes 4-5 hours of hard hiking to get here from the Baemsa-gol, Pia-gol or Nogo-dan trail-heads.
It's the only temple that could be said to be of Banya-bong -- quite different from the other two holiest peaks.

It has reputation only among aficionados of high-altitude sacred retreats devoted to intensive meditation.    
It seems to be a true "hermit-retreat" where visitors from the public are not welcomed -- there are no obvious
trails to it up from the valley or down from the peak, and there are no signs about it.  I'm surprised to see the
banner on the front here advertising hundred-day or thousand-day holy-site chanting-bowing sessions -- this
must mean that some lay-persons are making their way up here, bearing donations...

I have never been to it (as the hike is just too long and rough), making it perhaps the last important temple of
Jiri-san of which this is true.  I'm very interested in it however -- this is where
Master Pyeong-jeon told me that
he sat in meditation and communed with the Jiri-sanshin for 10 years, until he reached final enlightenment.  
Three friends of mine (Shawn, Kevin and Andrew) made it up here in May 2007; these are Shawn's photos.
the simple but very nice Shinjung-taenghwa, featuring a kindly bemused
San-shin and a sceptical Yong-wang, on parallel opposite upper-sides
the view out east over Baemsa-gol Valley from Myohyang-am
The Chil-seong painting
shows the
Bukseong-shin
[Longevity Spirit of the
North Star] with two boy-
attendants, one of whom
holds his mountain-staff ---
very rare!   It also includes
the
Okhwang-sangje [Jade
Emperor of Heaven] at its
bottom, following the great
tradition of Hwaeom-sa.
Humble Interiors -- the bell and drum are in the vestabule due to the long savage winters up there
The icons of Amita Buddha, Jijang-bosal and Gwanseeum-bosal, with an unique bronze statue of the last
a quirky-improvised outdoor-shrine, with a wooden tiger (turtle?) overlooking the deep valley
shrines  in  the  rooms
Three of us, shot by Shawn -- Kevin (top), Andrew and me (bottom) -- exhausted on the
steep climb up from
Pia-gol Valley.  I didn't make it much farther than this, but those three
younger stronger guys got all the way there -- stiff sore legs at dinner that evening!
Andrew returned to Myohyang-am in September 2007, on the
Baekdu-daegan Expedition
Main Hall and Residence, in one
Mysterious Temple of Jiri-san's Northwest Sector