Okunoin cemetery in Koyasan
(SOURCE: website of “Okunoin Cemetery Day Tour” which we did not take)
I omitted to mention that there are no keys to the doors of the room but there is an inside lock. At 7:30 am there was a commotion in the hall as breakfast was served. This was a six or seven course meal including tea and soup. If you don’t lock the doors the boys come charging back in later, calling out their greeting as they cleared up the breakfast things. A few minutes later I had gone back to bed, they came in with clean pyjamas, and clean towels and to make the bed. They saw that I was not interested in getting up so they crept out. Wherever we stayed there were pyjamas and/or a yakuta which you can sleep in. These are changed every day.
In the monastery there is a very strict rule about no shoes, except in the loo. We had our own en suite but there were two toilets in the hallway and shoes marked w.c. were to be worn in them.
Don was up earlier than 7 am and had managed to find a spot which had no Buddhist markings to daven. He said that he had heard the sound of ommmmm coming from the temple at the top of the hill in the monastery grounds. We had been told that if we wanted to join in the fire ceremony at 6.30 am or the meditation at 7 am we would be welcome. It was emphasised that this was a religious ritual and not a tourist attraction. We declined the offer with the excuse it was too early for us.
We spent the morning doing nothing but reading and I managed another short nap. We had been given a flask of hot water so we were able to have a pot noodle for lunch. This time we made kiddish and motze on our motzah before our delicious pot noodle.
After yet another long sleep we decided to go for a walk. The one feature of the village was the walk through the cemetery. We walked along the dark path of the Okunoin cemetery with the view of reaching the mausoleum. The cemetery is very interesting. There are stone lanterns all along the path. These have been donated by worshipers. Their names are engraved on them or painted on them. Bearing in mind that many of these are very old, rather out of place was a modern stone with the word “Panasonic” in English and Japanese - Don’s comment was that he was under the impression that this company was still very much alive! Members of this Buddhist sect from around the country consider this the ideal burial site because it is considered closest to heaven at the time for paradise.
We also saw hundreds, if not thousands of small statues of Buddha. Many have knitted caps and/or bibs. This is because they have been placed on the statues by parents to protect the children in the afterlife. They are red as red is perceived as a protective colour. After walking for about 20 minutes we didn’t think we had reached the mausoleum and so we turned back.
Although we didn’t walk anywhere near our 10,000 steps at least we got some fresh air.
At 5.30 pm we had a repeat performance of dinner and after we had taken out Shabbat it was time for bed. We had a long day ahead of us.
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