Koyasan is the name given to the mountains in Wakayama prefecture, just south of Osaka and where one of my aunts lives. It’s the home of the Shingon Sect of Japanese Buddhism and is the ultimate escape, with the township only being accessible by cable-car (unless you want the ultimate authentic experience and climb up there). It also happens to be a World Heritage site, as well as boasting a string of National Treasures … to be honest, it feels as if it’s not even part of this world. While I was there I felt as if I was in the world of Totoro, the forest spirit who gives his name to the Studio Ghibli film.
|Totoro (picture from web)|
|Local monks stopping for a chat in the central car park|
Considering the majority of infrastructure in town is temples, it would make sense to assume the accommodation available was also of the temple-y kind. Hosted by monks, Mum and I enjoyed a night and two days of comfort. They were painfully polite, as well as being horrendously good cooks. If I could eat like I did there every day, I would become vegan without a moment’s thought.
|A view of our room from the hall|
|Dinner (rice and tea not picture)|
Stepping off the cable car, then onto the bus and off onto the ground at Koyasan is like stepping back in time. I don’t have the words, nor do I have the photos, to do the place justice. Kyoto and Nara both give it a run for its money but there’s just something about the feel of Koyasan that is so unique, even within Japan. I know I said I prefer Japan in the summer but I think I could even brave the freezing winter temperatures if it meant I could go there again. There’s nothing more I can say, except that it may be my favourite place in the world.
|The view up the mountain from the cable car|
|Monks walking through the graveyards of Okunoin on their way to the main building, the site of the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi (founder of Shingon Buddhism)|