Mt Maisan, on the east of Jeonju, is about an hour away by bus. It's famous for the twin rocky mountains that look like Horse Ears. The mountain is famous for Tapsa Temple.
Horse Ear Mountain (马耳山公园) & Tapsa Temple ( 马耳塔寺)
Mount Maisan (马耳山公园) , "Horse Ear Mountain,” named because of the split part way up the mountain. Koreans claim that the taller half of the mountain belongs to the husband while the smaller is the wife.
A legend says that this couple were mountain spirits on their way to heaven. They must make it to Heaven before dawn so that no humans would spot them. Unfortunately, a housewife saw them early in the morning on her way to get water. The wife asked her husband to stop, but he refused and ignored her. As he moved on even higher and faster they were instantly frozen into rocks.
A long climb up to pray... so as to get closer to Heaven.
On Mt. Maisan, you find some 80 stone towers or pagodas that were erected in the early 1900’s by a hermit named Yi Kap-ryong. They were made by piling hundreds of rocks on top of one another without any use of mortar. Some are as high as 10 metres!
Hermit Yi Kap-ryong piled the stones over a decade as a personal prayer for peace. The prayer rocks are engineering marvels. Yi piled these natural stones up one by one without any mechanical help, working only at night, without electricity. Although the highest stone structure is over 10 m high, they are as solid as if they were stuck together by mortar. The stone towers have stood for over 100 years withstanding the forces of strong wind, rain and typhoons that have uprooted many trees in the area.
The stones used for each tower were chosen from mountains and rivers throughout Korea. Yi died at the age of 98.
I was told, during the colder months Maisan experiences a strange "magical" phenomena where if you place a bowl of water outside, an icicle will form and grow upwards. Though there is obviously a scientific explanation for it... I don't know what it is......
It was -4C when we were at Mt Maisan. It was quite difficult for me to climb the rocky steps to Tapsa Temple. Initially I didn't want to, luckily my student was there to helped me. I looked like an old woman being helped up the steps. And it was embarrassing because there were many elderly Korean women in their 60s or 70s who climbed all the way from the foot of Mt Maisan to Tapsa Temple without panting!
The view was so beautiful up there. It is so amazing to see the work of one single man. It's incredible & awesome, simply breathtaking! I feel so small among the stone structures.