Published: October 15th 2006September 25th 2006
Koyasan (population: 7000)
Koyasan is the centre of Buddhism at 1000m above sea level. After holding my stomach as my train, ropeway and bus battled up the winding path to Koyasan in pitch black, found myself (or lost myself) in a deserted town centre at 7.30pm. Completely disorientated and surrounded by half lit temples with Japanese signage it became a tedious guessing game as to which temple I booked my nights accommodation at. However, on arrival, the monk had no recollection of my two reservation emails. Luckily they had enough rooms and I was given a place to rest my weary head.
The next morning, I was awoken for morning chanting at 6.30am by a monk in my Ukata (light Japanese kimono) saying “Ukata, no - CHANGE!” Sleepily, I dragged myself towards the sound of a Japanese tenor and baritone chanting in unison to some light drumming. However, it wasn’t until one of the monks started banging some cymbals together that I really woke up. At the morning chanting, fire service and a tofu based Buddhist breakfast, I met up with another ECC teacher, the lovely Jacqui and her friend Bob who were great company for the sightseeing.
funny as it sounds, Koyasan’s main attraction is a Buddhist graveyard where the ashes of all the famous Buddhist monks and hot shot company directors (like Misubishi) are buried. Strolling through the conifers, to the beat of Buddhist chanting in the background and the smell of seductive incense in rural Japan provoked a real mystical and eerie sensation. The bright oranges, greens, whites and browns created stark contrast against the deep pine greens of the surrounding woodlands.
Despite the serenity, by noon we had visited all the main attractions at a leisurely pace. The seclusion of Koyasan made me realise how convenient urban Japan really is. It’s so easy to get used to having convenience store around every corner and vending machines on every street. Now, back to civilization.
There are more photos below