After the meeting we returned to our room to make 1 suitcase an overnight bag for our early morning trip on several trains, including a Shinkansen (bullet train – 300kph) and a funicular at 900mt ^ S.L. to a Monk Monastery in Koyasan (Mt Koya) for an overnight stay.
21 May So the adventure commences, up early with our overnight bag, and the other sent onwards to Hiroshima. The day started by catching several trains locally and then some relax time and comfort in a reserved seat on a Shinkansen (Bullet Train - 300ph). But wait, it was not over, onward to line up to board a Funicular (Cable Car up Hillside) and yes dragging our own luggage 'again'.
Final transport was to catch the local Bus up the climbing windy road through the lush tree lined hillside until we reached the most serene, quiet, clean and immaculate town of Koyasan at 900 metres above sea level.
Upon arrival to the Ekoin Temple Monastery we were taught the manners and rules to follow, e.g. how to take off shoes and put on scuffs, so as not to bring dirt/mud inside. Also shown to our traditionally style Japanese rooms, where meals to be eaten and to the communal bathroom/baths.
Once settled into rooms we took a group walk/tour, en-route we stopped off at a small temple where we walked in the dark under the blessing area where it is believed is a shortcut to understand the readings and learning of the Buddhist Bible. Karen was very quick to volunteer to enter first, so I quickly followed holding her hand and trying to keep constant contact with the walls. It was a tight space and total darkness, not the best place for someone with claustrophobia.
We continued walking along the local streets where we came across a group of school children handing out Charms and fruit (watermelon/oranges) in remembrance of the earthquake and its victims, whilst being filmed by local TV station. After a small break and eating the fruit, we went up the stairs towards the Temple, but stopped briefly at a cleansing station. Here you use a scoop to wash your right and then left hand, then your face to cleanse yourself before entering the Temple.
Cleansed, we entered and walked and explored areas including rooms/story boards, the gravel raked and rock gardens. We then walked back to Monastery, stopping for coffee (as usual), then back to room to rest before dinner.
We were also fortunate to see some young girls dressed for a modeling photo shoot, small boy dressed very traditionally (Karen gave Koala) and Koyasan mascot, Koya-kun.
We were requested to dress accordingly in our traditional clothing and to wait until a Monk came to our room to collect us for dinner (shojin-ryori) vegetarian cuisine dressed in our Kimono & Yukata.
Well dinner certainly was an experience and to be honest, quite impressed with ourselves and Brian & Nicola for trying all the parts of the dinner out of respect of the Monks, and the experience. After dinner the majority of the group did an optional guided tour of the Oko-no-in Cemetery, the most sacred site in Koyasan and the location of the mausoleum for Kobo Dashi (Kukai) the founder of Shingon Buddhism.
There are over 200,000 tombstones lining the 2km path by more than 10,000 lanterns burning day & night. Karen and I decided to go for our own self-guided walk through the cemetery and then back to room, where I took the opportunity to bath and shower in the communal bathroom while others were out for the authentic experience.
So, to sleep on the floor on a very thin mattress and pillow filled with small pieces of plastic tube??and a Duna to keep us warm alongside an electric heater.
Some photo's during our walk of Koyasan, such a beautifully clean and manicured town, surreal experience, loved it.
Weird night’s sleep, but the authenticity and location of the room and the features were humbling, amazing experience.
22 May Awake early and up for breakfast where some of the group went to morning prayer, and meditation. After a vegetarian breakfast was served and again tried by all, however leaving some of the group wanting for more (coffee and bakery lol).
Part of the internal gardens/grounds of the Monastery, and below the Entrance.
After breakfast the majority of the group went to witness the morning Fire Ritual/Ceremony where after the normal ritual, the Monks burnt the Wish Sticks of people who wrote their blessings/dreams/wishes on etc.
We then left the Monastery to make the return trip, Funicular and 2 trains back to Osaka to then catch a Shinkansen (300kph) for a 1.5hr ride to Hiroshima.
In closing, 'Take Every Chance You Get In Life, Because Some Things Only Happen ONCE', & let my stories and experience give you inspiration to create your own Moments.
Another 'Rivetting Moment', to inspire & ignite the traveller in you, to broaden life challenges & experiences!!!