A wander through Koyasan, Japan

My last post was about getting to Koyasan and staying in a Shukubo (temple lodging) – lots of fun! This one has my pics from a wander through town to the key sites.

From west to east, Koyasan is only a couple of kilometres, and while there is a bus that runs the route, it’s easy to walk.

The Dai-mon Gate is the western entry to town. At 25m it’s huge, and it guardian deities are pretty scary.

The Danjo Garan complex is significant as the first place that Kukai (Kobo Daishi) erected a temple atop Koyasan.

The Konpon Daito Pagoda has been destroyed by fire (due to lightning strike) five times, the last time being rebuilt in 1937. It’s stunning from a distance and brilliant in the sunlight.

But I was drawn to the more traditional wooden buildings among the pines and Japanese cedars.

This pagoda has a wheel around its base that can be spun for good fortune.

The Chu-mon Gate to the complex was rebuilt in 2015 in a project to celebrate the 1200th anniversary of Koyasan.

The kids found their first pile of snow outside one of the temples in town, which was most exciting!

Back at Eko-in, our Shukubo, we were lucky to witness the morning fire ceremony, which the monks use to cleanse and pray. We wrote wishes on sticks of wood, which were burnt in the fire. I asked for rain in Australia, so, I’m hoping it works.

The town itself is gorgeous.

We visited Okunoin again in the daytime to see the soaring cedars and beautiful moss covered stone in the light.

Many statues of Buddha wear red bibs. Jizo is one of the key representations of Buddha in Japan, and one of his jobs is to protect children. It is said that the bibs placed on the statues reflect this role, and red is the colour to ward off evil.

When you’re in the cemetery, look out for Asekaki Jizo, the sweating Buddha – he suffers pain on behalf of people, so praying to him can alleviate your pain. Also, do you dare to look into the Sugatami no Ido (Mirror Well)? If you can’t see your reflection, you’ll die within three years. We all tested it out, and luckily, our reflections were intact.

Before the Gobyo no hashi Bridge, which leads to Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum, a series of statues of Buddha stand, and it is customary to splash them with water to become clean before entering the most sacred section of Okunoin.

No photos are allowed past the bridge, but the lanterns inside Toro-do are worth a visit.

The cedars of Okunoin are protected by the government, and this is the oldest, at around 850 years.

And that was our visit to Koyasan!

Cable car away!

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