Jirisan or Jiri Mountain is also known as mother mountain to some who visit/climb/explore her valleys and hidden nooks. Not so hidden is the brand new and very picturesque walking course, which encompasses 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) of Jirisan’s majestic streams and rocks. With the addition of very accessible wooden paths and steps, this scenic course is sure to draw lots of eager visitors. I was able to discover and visit this magical place during the fall of 2019 when the leaves were already turning to their late fall reds and oranges, which was absolutely ideal for the photography lover that I am.
I was happy to be able to come back to Jirisan after about 9 years. My first visit to this first and the largest national park, was back to my first year in Korea when I was living in a city then known as Masan and my school’s director’s family was kind enough to take me on sightseeing tours all around Gyeongsangnam-do province. That was one of my favorite years in Korea when everything was so new and foreign to my newbie eyes and experiences.
Fast forward a whole lot of life stuff (marriage, a dog, travels, Master’s degree, picking up photography, building tiny houses, falling in love with Tiramisu and out of love with Cheesecake and the list goes on), my new Korean friend, Sunni, and I decided to explore her favorite mountain with its newly built course that her friend had recommended we visit. So we woke up earlier than I normally deem human and took off on our day trip to the Mother Mountain (called by Sunni) and also known as “the mountain of the odd and wise people.”
Did you know?
Jirisan National Park spans over 320 km² (198mi²) and covers three provinces, Gyeongsangnam-do, Jeollanam-do and Jeollabuk-do, one city, four counties, and fifteen eup or myeon districts.
A little about Daewonsa: It was originally built in 548, during the Silla Dynasty, but for whatever reason(s) was closed for over a thousand years afterwards. In 1914, there was a large fire, which burned the entire premises. Yet in 1917, around 184 rooms in 12 buildings were rebuilt, just to be damaged again during the Korean War. After the war, though, yet again, the temple was rebuilt and made even larger. In conclusion, I think this temple is incredibly relentless and I hope that this newly built path will continue visitations and maintenance of this temple for many years to come.
As for the valley itself, it also contains a story, albeit more mystical and incredible:
Yongso (Dragon Pool) is where a dragon is said to have hidden for a hundred years before it finally ascended to heaven.
Hardly fit for a hiking stick, this perfectly laid out path is incredibly convenient, when dealing with such a rocky surface. Also, it keeps you safe as you lean over the railing, taking that “perfect” shot. 🙂
Here we are approaching the temple, but didn’t stop for long, because we had more ground to cover and my pedometer kept telling me – “Is that all you’ve got?!”
In case you’re curious what this picture sounds like:
Check out Drone & Landscape /풍경여행‘s very soothing, perfectly meditative video of Jirisan Valley’s stream:
When you arrive at Daewon Temple, you’ll have to make a few choices if you’re to proceed further up the mountain. This map opens up a whole lot of possibilities to explore this ginormous National park. On a one day trip, though, we decided to go as far as the village of Saejae (새재) and tackle the rest, on another, more prepared adventure.
So off we went for another 3.7+ km, where Sunni promised our final treat would be Makkoli (raw rice wine) and lunch. She had me at Ma… 😛
After lunch, we decided to not go on any further and save our wobbly legs for going back, the same way we started. Because the road was stunning, so why not experience it again, finding new angles to photograph, different light of the day to capture with.
Overall, this Daewon valley road blew me away with its serenity, its multitude of fall colors, lack of crowds (we went on a Monday) and ease of passage (for those of us, less climbing-trained). I would most definitely return here and would recommend to anyone who is visiting Jirisan!