Koyasan: Snow on Cedar Trees, Temples and Buddhas


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Asia » Japan » Wakayama » Koyasan
January 5th 2011
Published: January 5th 2011
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Just came back from Fukuoka, and headed straight to Koyasan the next day. Still on my New year holiday, and luckily kiddie daycare is already back and running. So we sent our kids to the daycare for the day, and finally made the journey to the famous Mt. Koya. The place is 860 meters above sea level and dotted with quite a number of World Heritage Sites pertaining to Esoteric practice of Shingo Buddhism, which has a large following all over Japan.

I always thought of visiting this place, but always had a change of plans at the last minute. I was thinking that maybe I wouldn't experience its beauty at the same level as those who are practicing the faith. But, I was so wrong. The place is completely a world on its own. The quiet beauty of a preserved culture of faith, temples and even a burial ground, against the backdrop of cedar trees filled mountains are amazing.

It was very cold when we reached the place. The town was still covered with snow, making the whole place more dramatic. Now I really regret that I still am using a point and shoot camera. Unfortunately, we were late to witness the Shushu-e, a ritual done by monks that has something to do with the New Year. So I haven't seen a lot of monks in robes. I however, saw a lot of them, skinhead monks, maybe the one who are still novices, dressed in work clothes and plowing snow.

But what was the most surprising on this visit was taking a slow hike through the Okunoin Gobyo, a huge graveyard. Who would have thought a graveyard can be a beautiful place. And with the slippery snow, Rinka and myself were holding hands for support, making the cemetery stroll, romantic and lovely. I know my photos wont give justice to the cemetery. But if we weren't pressed for time and its less cold, it would be easy to spend 3 hours alone on this sprawling cemetery. Imagine hundreds of years old trees cutting through old tombstones, lanterns and statues. River adorned with charms and trinkets running through snow covered trees. I should stop now. Since my only point is that the graveyard is really awesome!!!

I also liked the Konpon Daito, which houses 4 giant sized Buddhas. The pagoda is huge and its flaming orange. Its a structure that really calls attention, specially when the structure around it are old brown temples.

It was sad that we only have 3 hours to spend in this lovely place. The travel to Koyasan from Osaka, and back already cost us 4 worthy but precious hours. A lot of temples accept guests for a night accommodation. If this type of experience has no reputation of serenity, then we would have brought along our screaming kids and spend the night in those temple lodges. A night in the temple, compelled to wake and pray at 5:00 AM,fed expensive tofu and veggie meals will certainly be on our bucket list for next time.


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7th January 2011

nice pictures..especially the buddha covered with snow..good thing you are living in a place na parang walang lugar na hndi maganda..i hope i can go to japan real soon..
7th January 2011

what soon, we are waiting for you and Arianne this year, so make it happen!

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