The Sacred Mount Koya
Mount Koya’s main attraction is no doubt the incredible Okunoin temple which is surrounded by one of the largest cemetery in Japan. The journey through leads to a magnificent temple that is celebrated as one of the most sacred places in Japan, as the founder of Shingon Buddhism (Kobo Daishi) awaits in everlasting meditation there.
Mount Koya’s Cemetery
The two kilometer long path through the cemetery starts begins Ichinohashi Bridge, which can be reached by taking the bus to Ichinohashi-guchi bus stop. Visitors are expected to bow as a sign of respect to Kobo Daishi before crossing the bridge. Another, shorter option begins at the Okunoin-mae bus stop, which starts closer to the halfway point. Asides from the eerily captivating atmosphere of the cemetery, several famous historians’ graves are located in here.
As a history buff myself, I quite enjoyed searching the cemetery for these people’s graves along my way. Despite a cemetery sounding boring, the intricate statues and graves of the deceased are a fascinating view to behold. I personally took the 2 kilometer route, as I couldn’t get enough of the enchanting atmosphere, and enjoyed every bit of it. I have heard that walking hear early in the morning adds to the majestic scenery and might be a nice option to try.
Pilgrimage and Prayers
Closer to the temple, the two paths join at the offering hall, where many Buddhavist statues are lined up in front of water. Many people splash water on the statues as a prayer for the deceased, in addition to cleansing themselves in the normal temple ritual before crossing the second bridge.
Once you reach Gobyonohashi Bridge, food, drinks and photography are no longer permitted. Due to this, I have no pictures of the area, but it’s all the more reason for you to go and experience it yourself!
Guests are once again expected to bow before crossing this bridge into the inner grounds.
Mount Koya’s Mausoleum
In this area lies the Todoro Hall and Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum. Todoro Hall, or Hall of Lanterns houses hundreds of lanterns hanging from the ceiling in addition to being the mall place of worship at the temple. Moreover, the hall’s basement also holds statues that had been donated to the hall. It is a really beautiful sight to see all the lanterns lit while many pray for their loved ones.
Just behind Todoro Hall lies Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum, which many visitors stop by to offer respect to him.
Furthermore, in this area there is a stone in a cage, which seems odd to those who don’t understand its purpose. This stone is said to feel lighter to those who are good and heavier to those who are bad, and each person is invited to try to life the stone up with one hand to see which one they are.
Okunoin Temple: Why Not Visit the Sacred Mount Koya
The additionally nice thing about Okunoin Temple is that it is completely free to visit. Out of all the places I had the opportunity to visit, this was one of my absolute favourites! I loved everything about it. The atmosphere was definitely my favourite part, but the tomb stones and various other attractions the area had made it all the more amazing. Mount Koya also has other attractions to offer in the area, and is definitely worth the long trip to visit.
|Address||550 Koyasan, Ito-gun, Koya-cho 648-0211, Wakayama Prefecture|
|Access||[map]550 Koyasan, Ito-gun, Koya-cho 648-0211, Wakayama Prefecture[/map]|
|Opening Hours||6:00 - 17:30|