Jiri-san   지리산
the Exquisite-Wisdom Mountain
an idealized view of Jiri-san's highest peak and the monument on it, from KNTO
I translate its name "Ji-ri" as "Exquisite Wisdom", a Buddhist-based term -- spiritual
wisdom that is above-the-ordinary, refined, precious and rare.  It fits.   The term "exquisite
wisdom" is used in the famous Diamond and Lotus Sutras as the type of wisdom
possessed and employed by
Munsu-bosal [Manjusri or Monju (Jp), the Bodhisattva of
Wisdom] to enlighten each Buddha before it manifests into our world, and to potentially
enlighten all the universe's beings.  This massive mountain has long been associated
with this key Buddhist deity, and several of the temples found here reflect that emphasis.  
As a result, Koreans commonly say that staying for a while on the slopes of this mountain
will transform a foolish people into wise ones.


Alpine springs of very high-quality water flow down
into two-dozen dramatic valleys and famous scenic
gorges.  Twelve great Buddhist temples and more
than 60 smaller ones are found around the slopes,
with several shrines and well-known folk-culture sites.
Half of Korea's eight highest-altitude temples are
found in these mountains.  Most of Jiri-san is a
National Park -- Korea's oldest and still the largest
mountain-based one.  It was designated at the end
of December 1967 by President Park Chung-hee.
Jiri-san's location at the bottom of the Korean peninsula, on a satellite photo --
its lofty peaks are the brown spots clearly visible in the upper center of this picture.
The white areas indicate civilization, not snow...
The 2004 and 2006 Namak-je
[Southern Peak Ceremony]

12 Main Sectors,
with Major Temples & Shrines:

Far-Southwest:
 west of Nogo-dan
Cheoneun-sa -- Hidden-Valley Temple
small Hermitages around Cheoneun-sa
Sudo-am, with the nation's largest Sanshin-gak
the Legend of Chail-bong Peak
Sangseon-am, the remote Upper Sanctuary
Nogo-dan -- Crone-Altar Peak


Central-Southwest:  below Nogo-dan
Hwaeom-sa
Temple of the Flower-Garland (Avatamsaka) Sutra
The Hermitages of Hwaeom-sa
Southern Munsu-sa
O-san Saseong-am, the Four-Sages Hermitage
with its Doseon-gul Cave
Taean-sa, Meditation Retreat


Eastern-Southwest:
Yeon-gok-sa
the Stupa of Doseon-daesa?
Pia-gol Scenic Valley
Bullak-sa, Hansan-sa & Cheonwang-sa


Central-South  (W of Samshin-bong):
Ssanggye-sa, the Twin-Streams Monastery
Monument written by Choi Chi-won at Ssanggye-sa
Korea's Green Tea Center, outside Ssanggye-sa
Guksa-am -- the National-Master Hermitage
Bulil Hermitage and Waterfall
Chilbul-sa, the Seven-Buddhas Temple
Daeseong-gyegok, the Great Sage Scenic-Gorge
Jitong-sa in Bucheon-ri Valley


Far-South  (Hadong, below Samshin-bong):
Cheonghak-dong: the Azure-Crane Village
with Three Sages Palace - Korea's Daoist Utopia
1993 Cheonje Festival       1999 Cheonje Festival
the Middle and Lower Cheonghak-dong Valley
Akyang-myeon District
Hadong Town Temples


Inner-Southeast -- SW Sancheong County:
Cheonhwang-bong:  the Heavenly-King Peak
The National-Holy-Grandmother San-shin
Beobgye-sa Temple, one of Korea's highest

Temples & Shrines of the Naedae-cheon Valley:
Seokcheon-sa, Cheongcheon-am, Cheonwang-am,
Gwanryong-am,  Sanshin-Halmae-dang  and Gilsang-am


Eastern -- Southwestern Sancheong County:
Daewon-sa
Naewon-sa
Hermitages & Shrines of the Naewon Valley
Jangdang-gol Gorge of the Samjang Stream
Jeonggak-sa and Etc. in the Far-Southeast
Baekun-gyegok, White Cloud Scenic-Valley with Yongmun-sa
Namsa-cheon-gol, South Shrine Stream Valley with Dansok-saji


Far-Northeast -- Central Sancheong County:
Wang-san, the King's Tomb Mountain
with Muryang-sa / Wangrim-sa and
Wangbok-sa
Ungseok-bong, the Bear-Stone Peak
with Shimjeok-sa and Oknyeo-am

Inner-Northeast -- Southern Hamyang County:
Byeoksong-sa and West Hermitage
the Seven-Immortals Gorge
Beobhwa-san, the Dharma-Blossom Mountain
Ssukbatje slopes & Imchin-gang River:
North Munsu-sa,  Jeokjo-am and etc.
Gyeonbul-sa, major new "Viewing Buddha Temple"
Eastern Macheon-myeon District:
Baekmu-dong & Hanshin Scenic Valleys
Myeongseon-bong & Hyeongje-bong Peaks, Byeokso-ryeong Pass w/
Baemshil-saem Spring, Deokpyeong-bong & Seonbi-saem Spring
Chilseon-bong, Yeongshin-bong & Chottae-bong Peaks,
Seseok-pyeongjeon Field & Seseok-cheon Spring


Upper-North:  Samjeong-bong
Shilsang-sa, one of the Gusan Zen Temples
Yaksu-am, Geumdae-am, Anguk-am,
Seojin-am and Baekjang-am Hermitages
Western Macheon-myeon District:
Yeongwon-sa and Godam-sa
Sambul-sa, Munsu-am,  Sangmuju-am and Dosol-am
Other Shrines in the Area


Inner Northwest:
Baemsa-gol Scenic Valley and Samdo-bong Peak
Banya-bong, Peak of Prajna Wisdom
Myohyang-am, the Mystical-Fragrance Hermitage
Shrines in the Unbong-myeon District
Deokchi-ri Pass BDDG Monument
Juji-sa and Yeowon-am
Manbok-dae, Gori-bong, Segeol-bong, Barae-bong & Deokdu-bong
Hwangsan Victory Monument at Hwasu-ri Village
Bloody Rock at Hwang-san

Outer Northwest:
Yongdam-sa and the other Temples of
Namwon, Korea's City of Romance
Shrines of the Northwestern Slopes
Looking south across the Seomjin River on a typically foggy morning
Myself at what may be the Budo of
Doseon-daesa, in April 2006
Cheonhwang-bong seen from Yeongwon-sa area
Hiking up on the long, high main ridge
Green Tea growing on the steep slopes
of the Daeseong-gyegok scenic-valley
On Highway 19 on the north bank of the Seomjin River in October 2004,
pumpkins and religious-motif stone-carvings are on sale.
Looking south from that same place, the placid Seomjin River flows by.
One of Korea's holiest mountains;
Supreme out of all South Korea's
"Top 12" Mountains
Jiri-san is listed as one of Korea's most sacred
places on Martin Gray's excellent Sacred Sites
of the World website, on
this page about Korea.

For plenty of information and beautiful photos
of the world's holy pilgrimage destinations,
get his excellent new 275-page book:
Sacred Earth: Places of Peace and Power.