Koyasan, Mt Koya

Koyasan is a centre of Buddhist study and practice. It’s located on Mt Koya 112 km south of Kyoto at about 900m .

It was founded 12 centuries ago by Kobo Daishi as a centre fir Shingon Buddhist training. He wanted a monastery deep in the mountains far from worldly distraction. The Emperor of the time gave him the land in 816, when were lumbering along in the dark ages. There are now several Buddhist temples here. We visited several notably Kongobuji which is the administrative head temple of Koyasan. As usual it has burnt down several times and the current temple has been here since the 1860’s.

Incredibly there is a small temple, The Fudodo; that does date from 1197. Now a national treasure as probably the only building in Japan that has not burnt down!

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The picture is Konon Daito (great pagoda) Originally first constructed in 816 the present building was built in 1932.

We are staying in Shojoshin-in, one of 52 temple lodgings. It is a working temple; originally rooms were let to visiting pilgrims, now 52 open their doors to tourists. You get a tatami matted room, shared bathrooms and an onsen. You also get a vegetarian meal, Buddhists being veggie. The whole town respects the traditions of Buddhism. In a café a waitress caught a hornet in a butterfly net and released it instead of swatting it, a bit surreal. We have prayers tomorrow at 6.30 am, definitely going, I need all the help I can get.

Tomorrow before going to Osaka we entering a forest to see a mausoleum. Surrounded by a thick forest of massive cedars, the area known as Okuno-in, or the Inner Sanctuary, is the setting for a vast cemetery that features the mausoleums of numerous famous Japanese, including that of the samurai ruler Toyotomi Hideyoshi (or Taiko Hideyoshi) as well as memorials to the spirits of soldiers killed in the Pacific War.

Fireproof Fudodo

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Rhonda going all 'Japanese'. Any excuse to wear her dressing gown all day.

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This morning we visited the Okunoin cemetery, the largest in japan. Also the site of the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism. We got up for 6.30 prayers and a monk chanted aloud clashed some symbols and rang a bell, very calm and relaxing and the after a veggie breakfast off we went to visit the cemetery.
Instead of having died, Kobo Daishi is believed to rest in eternal meditation as he awaits the Buddha of the Future, and provides relief to those who ask for salvation in the meantime. Okunoin is one of the most sacred places in Japan and a popular pilgrimage spot.
Across a bridge starts Okunoin's cemetery, the largest in Japan, with over 200,000 tombstones lining the almost two kilometer long approach to Kobo Daishi's mausoleum. Wishing to be close to Kobo Daishi in death to receive salvation, many people, including prominent monks and feudal lords have had their tombstones erected here over the centuries. There are also some mausoleums with corporate names such as Panasonic and Nissan, not quite sure why they were there and definitely unsure about the rocket!
Apparently there is one by an insecticide company dedicated to its termite victims.
There is also the Miroku Stone, housed in a small cage. Visitors are challenged to lift the stone from the cage's lower platform to an upper platform with only one hand. It is believed that the stone feels lighter to good people and heavier to bad people, and that it can provide a connection to the Miroku Bodhisattva.
Okunoin. Needless to say I could not lift it Rhonda declined the challenge.

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