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Published: November 27th 2006
Sunset in Osaka
We were in the Osaka skytower (not sure if that's the real name) and got treated to a kick-ass sunset!
Hey gang, Rob and I are currently in Bangkok, Thailand, enjoying +30 weather and the swimming pool on the top of the roof of our hostel. Gosh, life is rough, isn't it? Things are good over here (obviously), and I've definitely got to write something about Bangkok, but before I do, I wanted to talk about Koyosan, Japan.
Koyosan was basically our last stop in Japan. We were in Osaka for a couple of days, but between bouncing to and from a couple of hostels and doing laundry, we never really had the time to see much of what the city offered. That's alright though, because Koyosan more than made up for it.
Koyosan, as described by the flyer I grabbed, is, "the spiritual center of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, which was founded by a priest named Kukai over 1,200 years ago". It is located by Mt. Koya, is over 1,000 meters above sea level (about a 2 hr train ride from Osaka), and is surrounded by giant cedar trees. There are over 100 temples there, and many of them double as a hotel, offering a very traditional japanese room for the night. There is also a huge cemetary for
Tram up to Koyosan
This is the tram that gets you there.
those of the Daishi faith. There are over a half-million tombstones, most of which are hundreds of years old. It is also home to Okunion, a temple that monks still use and which contains countless lanterns that they keep lit (not as impressive as it sounds since the advent of electricity. Seriously, I think all the lanterns are wired. Still looks cool though!). What this all adds up to is what's more or less a mountain resort like Jasper or Banff with the difference being the culture and the history surrounding it.
Rob and I spent most of our time here checking out the huge graveyard. To me, it feels like you're travelling backwards in time straight to ancient Japan. The combination of the trees and tombstones make this a powerful place, and when you get to Okunion and see the monks, the temple, and people praying, you can almost feel the spiritualism. It's a very intense place to be.
We spent the night in the youth hostel here, which was really great. Like the temples, it also featured traditional japanese rooms, but had untraditional features like cable. We also got a space heater, but every room in
Koyosan has one of those (its very cold here in November).
the next day we checked out the other temples and pagodas around here, some of which are among the oldest in Japan. I've already seen my fair share of temples around here, so normally this isn't a big deal to me, but we got here smack-dab in the middle of autumn, and the leaves were full of reds, yellows, purples, and greens. That made for some amazing colours around here - I think we took more photos of the leaves than of the temples! We finished off the day by running down the mountain to the tram - a 3km trail at about a 45 degree angle. That was a blast, and provided some great views!
Anyway, I've run out of things to say, so I'll cut if off here. Later kiddies!
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