Japan Trip, Part 8 – Koyasan

From Osaka we took a train and then a furnicular to Koyasan (Mount Koya), where the monks live. Billed as ‘staying with the monks’ it would be more accurately described as ‘staying in a hotel the monks have set up to cash-in on the area’ and, although interesting, it wasn’t quite the spiritual experience it might be billed as.

Renoji Inn, Koyasan, where we were to stay:

Koyasan does have an impressive cemetery, however, with something like a million graves and rising:

It isn’t just a tourist attraction as real pilgrims come to visit the shrines and temples at the heart of the cemetery:

As well as ‘regular’ graves there were a number of larger monuments:

This ziggurat-type structure is quite far into the cemetery:

As well as traditional stone and marble memorials there are a number of corporate installations, such as a statue of a car worker which is there for Toyota workers. As with so many things in Japan there’s always room for something a bit different such as this space rocket:

The monk’s accomodation wasn’t the most luxurious. Although all fine, there wasn’t any of the things you might expect in a hotel, such as locks on the doors, a bathroom, or anywhere private to wash or brush your teeth. They did, however, have electric blankets to keep their feet warm. These seemed to form part of the table furniture and I’m left again to wonder why they have table-blankets but they can’t get round to putting legs on their chairs:

The monks also had a strange view of our sleeping arrangements, obviously deciding that all four of us were going to be sleeping in a free-for-all across two rooms. That’s what you get from staying somewhere that’s usually full of hippies, I suppose:

There was a religious aspect to the whole thing, though, with this great hall being the place where meditation took place. I tried it in the evening but the whole sitting crossed legged with your eyes closed for 40 minutes thing didn’t really do anything for me.

The furnicular on the way back. It’s steep:

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Next: Japan Trip, Part 9 – Tokyo and home

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