Next stop on our Grand Golden week adventure was the spiritual town of Koyasan. Koyasan is a Buddhist town tucked away in the Koyasan mountain range not too far from Nara. We rented a car to get there and with Mikes sweet driving skills we got there without any hiccups. I should mention that the road to Koyasan is not for the faint of heart. It is swirly, windy, and for those of week stomachs like myself; you’ll want to be prepared for a little car sickness!
We easily found our sleeping quarters for the night, which happened to be in a Buddhist Temple or a Shukubo. There were so many different temples to choose one but we some finally managed to pick Daienin which was founded in 923!! Talk about ancient!
The town of Koyasan is chalked full of Temples, shrines and other Buddhist artifacts. Since we were all basically clueless to the history and meaning behind everything we picked up audio guides at the local information shop. Even though the weather was a bit chilly that didn’t stop us from exploring the town and getting a history lesson.
Staying in a Buddhist temple means that you have to eat your meals at a specific time! Since it was cold and drizzling outside we were all happy to put on our robes and head to dinner! If only we were at Hogwarts! Both dinner and breakfast were vegetarian but the food was great and the portion sizes were just right!
Curfew was 9 pm but I’m pretty sure we were all in bed by 8pm that night because of how tired we were! (Thats right there’s A LOT of rules at these temples!)
The next morning refreshed from our 12 hours of sleep we headed to Okunoin Temple, which is by far the highlight of the town. There are over 200,000 moss covered tombs in this cemetery which is surrounded by ancient trees and basically a sacred forest. Some of the tombs date back to 900. It was more than surreal. At the end of the forest is the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism and one of the most revered persons in the religious history of Japan. My pictures don’t even begin to do this place justice.