Koyosan - The Heartland of Japan

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November 23rd 2006
Published: November 27th 2006
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Sunset in OsakaSunset in OsakaSunset 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 KoyosanTram up to KoyosanTram 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!

Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19


Koyosan GraveyardKoyosan Graveyard
Koyosan Graveyard

That's a big-ass tree!
Eye see you!Eye see you!
Eye see you!

Just a cool photo I took in the graveyard.
mmm, chocolate potato chips!mmm, chocolate potato chips!
mmm, chocolate potato chips!

Forget it people, Rob and I have already patented this, so don't even think of trying to sell it!!!
Room in HostelRoom in Hostel
Room in Hostel

Pretty neat, eh?
Wheat KingsWheat Kings
Wheat Kings

There was a little field behind the graveyard. I thought this was a cool photo, so here you go...
Autumn in KoyosanAutumn in Koyosan
Autumn in Koyosan

During our run down the mountain.

27th November 2006

So from Japan on to Bangkok. The travels continue but the stories are slowing. I love hearin about the great scenery and wonderful monuments but I want some stories about you and Rob. What shit did you get yourselves into? I long for another classic entry like your times on the rooftop of the Japanese hostel checking out the (wo)man. Lets hear the dirt like arrests, encounters with locals, etc. Actually, I'm enjoying living vicariously through your blog so as long as the stories continue, I'll have a life. Not much to do when its 25 below with a windchill of minus 36. Mike PS - Pronger comes to town tomorrow. I'll let you know how that turned out.
27th November 2006

great pic tom.
These pictures are great Tom. Glad to hear you 2 enjoy the trip. We are missing you with helping to shovel SNOW!!!! How is your new hairdo?? Dad said to tell you to be careful and not get a heatstroke. He had that ones himself. Is your stomach feeling fine after that HOT food?? Love you and HI from Mark-Brian-Vickie-Lisa-Cole. I had lunch with them and they are of to Las Vegas next Sunday. Mom.
28th November 2006

I love the little monks...they are so cute!!!!
Hey Tom, are the Monks super cute in real life?? Did you love Japan?? Sounds like you are having such a good time, and this is so entertaining to read. Its great! So, no matter how you look at it, your really not missing much here, except for the bone chilling -33 give or take with a windchill. Sick!!! The pictures are amazing!! And I can not wait to hear about Thailand, and please try papaya salad, and green mango, and a bug (you can get some fried), ok, maybe don't go for the bug...it might come up and then you would have had to eat something gross two times...sorry to be graphic, but thats how it works!!! ha!! But seriously have fun and take care!!!! :)
29th November 2006

I won't promise the bug Lindsey, but I'll see what I can do about the rest. Glad you're enjoying the blog Mike! The Bangkok blog should be a little more to your flavor, but if not, I'll make some shit up for you!!! Mom, Dad, don't worry about the heat stroke (I've got a hat), and I can handle the hot stuff. Besides, they tone it down for white boys like us!

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