Japan: Koyasan

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Delicious dinner at our temple on Mount Koya

Koyasan is a Buddhist community located on top of Mount Koya in the Wakayama Prefecture (just south of Kyoto and Osaka). We decided early on in our planning to make the trek up the sacred mountain and spend the night at Kongo Sanmaiin, one of the Buddhist temples.

 

If you are planning a trip to Kyoto or Osaka, Koyasan is definitely worth an overnight stay! But a couple of tips: 1) Book ahead! You can only lodge at a temple and space is limited. 2) Don’t take too much luggage with you. We left our suitcases in storage lockers at Osaka train station and only took backpacks with us (we picked up our suitcases when we came back to Osaka the next day and it only cost us 35 euros – well worth it for easier travel).

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Our train

 

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Riding up Mount Koya

After doing a bit of research, we decided on Kongo Sanmaiin for our temple stay. The temple was built in 1223 by a widow named Hojo Masako, an influential and powerful female political leader. The temple was constructed in memory of her husband, Minamoto Yoritomo.

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Kongo Sanmaiin

 

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At Kongo Sanmaiin, we were able to try Shojin Ryori – a vegetarian cuisine developed by Buddhist monks.

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Serving myself some rice

 

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Shojin Ryori Dinner

 

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Tea after dinner

 

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First time sleeping on a tamami

 

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Japanese breakfast – too savory for me at 6AM

After breakfast, we checked out and walked around the city. Koyasan is like an outdoor museum – so many beautiful temples and sites!

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The main street in Koyasan

 

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Lotus Pond

 

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Chanting monks

 

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Chumon Middle Gate

 

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Danjo Garan

 

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After walking along the main street, we made our way to Koyasan’s most famous landmark Okunoin Cemetery. Okunoin is considered one of the most sacred and holiest places in the entire country. The cemetery was more breathtaking than I ever could have imagined. Pure peace and serenity.

On a side note – we got really lost and walked 1.5 hours to get there – but worth it!

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Lost and can’t read the map

 

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Still lost and not sure where to go

 

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We made it!

 

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