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Koyasan Attractions / Side Trips from Kyoto Vol. 4

COOL JAPANESE SCENE / Kansai & Kyoto (63) / Kansai & Kyoto (65)

Introduce "Koyasan Attractions" as one of the Side Trips from Kyoto.
Taking up herewith Temple Lodging / Overnight at a Buddhist temple, Okunoin Temple / Temple where Kobo Daishi is enshrined, Kongobuji Temple / Head monastery of the Shingon sect and Garan / Koyasan's central temple complex.
Temple Lodging / Overnight at a Buddhist temple

About fifty of the over one hundred temples at Koyasan offer temple lodging (shukubo) to visiting tourists. Most of them charge about 9,500 Yen per person and night, which includes dinner and breakfast.
The meals served at temple lodgings are shojin ryori, the vegetarian cuisine of monks. At many shukubo, guests have also the opportunity to participate in the morning prayers, which typically start around 6am and last for about 30-45 minutes.

Okunoin Temple / Temple where Kobo Daishi is enshrined.

(Grave lined approach to Okunoin )

Okunoin is the temple where Kobo Daishi (Kukai), the founder of Shingon Buddhism and one of the most revered persons in the religious history of Japan, rests in eternal meditation. It is considered one of the most sacred places in Japan.
Okunoin is surrounded by Japan's largest graveyard. People from all over Japan, who wished to be buried close to Kobo Daishi, lie there, including former feudal lords, politicians and other prominent personalities. Their graves line the approaches to Okunoin for several hundred meters through the forest.

Kongobuji Temple / Head monastery of the Shingon sect.

Kongobuji is the head temple of the Buddhist Shingon sect which was introduced to Japan by Kobo Daishi in the year 805. The temple was constructed in 1593 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and is famous for its sliding doors, which were painted by members of the Kano school.

Garan / Koyasan's central temple complex.
Main Hall (left) and Daito (right)

The Garan is Koyasan's central temple complex, which was originally constructed by Kobo Daishi. It was enlarged over the centuries and now consists of the Kondo (main hall), Daito (great tower), Saito (western tower), the Miedo (Mie hall) and various other temple and shrine buildings.
The Daito and Saito are so called tahoto, a rather rare kind of pagoda which still resembles the Indian stupa more than the more common three and five storied Japanese pagoda.

Koyasan is one of the best places to experience a night at a temple. About fifty temples in the area function as shukubo, where tourists are welcome to overnight, try shojin ryori, the vegetarian cuisine of monks and participate in the morning prayers.

Japan's first permanent capital was established in the year 710 at Heijo, the city now known as Nara. As the influence and political ambitions of the city's powerful Buddhist monasteries grew to become a serious threat to the government, the capital was moved to Nagaoka in 784.
Nara is located in the Kinai plain, less than one hour from Kyoto and Osaka. Due to its past as the first permanent capital, it remains full of historic treasures, including some of Japan's oldest Buddhist temples.

By T.S. on Aug 18, 2009

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Author:T. SATOH