Day 3 – Exploring Koyasan
Accommodation: Muryoko-in temple, Koyasan
There’s a lot to see in Koyasan and you really need two days at least to try and see everything without rushing too much, and an extra day if you want to include a hike as well. When I was living in Japan and working as a tour leader I came to Koyasan quite a few times so I’ve done most of the touristy things but I had a whole day to explore so I revisited lots of sights.
I bought breakfast at the Family Mart convenience store so I was at the west end of Koyasan and my first stop was at the Daishi Kyokai centre to do something I’d never done before, sutra copying. It cost ¥100 and I was led to a room and given a calligraphy pen and paper with the sutra faintly printed on the paper. I think the point is to relax and almost meditate I guess by concentrating and copying out the sutra. My old calligraphy teacher would be embarrassed by my calligraphy writing but it was really difficult to copy the complex kanji characters with a calligraphy pen that had a mind of its own! After spending an hour copying the sutra I opted for another new experience in the same centre and attended an Ojukai Buddhist ceremony – I was led to a hall with about 10 other people and we sat in the dark while the priests chanted, then we repeated the chants, repenting our past misdeeds and taking refuge in Buddha. Towards the end of the service, the priests called our names out one by one and we had to walk up a few steps in the dark to receive a certificate of the ceremony. It was an interesting morning. I then strolled around the Danjo Garan temple complex.
Next I visited the Konpon Daito great pagoda and Kongobuji temple.
I had a delicious lunch at a vegetarian restaurant in the main street called Bon on Shya then snacked on grilled mochi sweets as I walked along.
I love Japanese depictions of the Tanuki raccoon dog. I’ve mentioned Tanuki before somewhere in my blog but if you missed it, have a look at what they’re sitting on! Consider it a mini challenge when you visit Japan to photograph the tanuki with the largest balls! 😉
And then I was back at Okunoin cemetery which is just incredible and enormous and you could literally spend hours walking around it.
Jizo-in temple where I stayed the last two nights was full tonight so I had to move one last time, and I booked into Muryoko-in where I stayed when I finished the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage. It’s a beautiful temple with stunning rooms, definitely the most beautiful room of my four nights here, but it also has paper thin walls!