Friday 8 May 2015
Highlights: Karukayado Monastery, Konpon Daito Temple, Konkobuji Temple, Oku-no-in Cemetery, Meditation with a monk.
Today we moved to Koyasan, taking a number of trains, buses and a funicular to get to the height of the mountain. Due to the travel style with limited space we had sent our main bags onto Hiroshima while just taking a night bag for today and tonight.
Funiculars are always fun and the train rides highlighted some great sights assuming you aren’t afraid of heights that is and their were many straight drops of the side.
The Montastery we are staying at is amazing. Old style buildings and the rooms very Japanese style. No shoes allowed, small tables and paper doors.
After a quick Japanese lunch at a local restaurant our first stop in this holy place was Oku-no-in Cemetery. The cemetery has over 200,00 tombstones including several to large corporations like Panasonic and Nissan in memory of the staff who had died. There are over 10,000 lanterns which later tonight I experienced lite up. The most famous occupant of Oku-no-in Cemetery is Kobo Diashi who has been sleeping for the last 1200 years (people are still waiting for him to wake up). Diashi is famous for bringing his version of Buddrism to Japan.
Next stop was Kongobuji Temple or Main Temple. The highlight here was the Zen Garden or Stone Garden to help you reflect and see how everything is connected.
Next was a short walk to Konpon Diato which had temple dominating the landscape. After a maybe 15 minutes it was free time to get back to our lodgings and prepare for the optional meditation session with a monk which I decided to do.
I found the Monk’s meditation hard, both the sitting position and attempting to ‘release my burden’.
We then we had dinner at the Montastery, a shojin-ryori meal, a typical vegetarian meal for the area. Ted then got us to make an origami crane which I eventually made and it will be sacrificed tomorrow for goodwill in Hiroshima tomorrow.
Last up was the optional visit back to Oku-no-in Cemetery at night with a monk guiding and explaining everything which I again signed up for. We were extremely lucky to see a once in 100 year procession with all the senior monks in the area as the 8 May was the night Kobo Diashi began his rest 1200 years ago. The lanterns at night were a great sight.