Autumnal Leaves on a Hallowed Peak

Autumnal Leaves on a Hallowed Peak

Consider traveling to Mt. Koya in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, if you’re searching for a unique place to observe autumn leaves in the fall (not far from Osaka). Known by its Japanese name, Koyasan, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to 117 revered Shingon Buddhist temples. The Japanese maples that line its paths in the autumn provide a stunning display of vivid reds and oranges to the landscape. The 1,200-year-old temples, pagodas, and halls built by Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon branch of Buddhism, may be found in and around them.

Accommodations in temples

In Koyasan, guests may stay the night in a temple if they have a day or two to spare. Shojin-ryori, a traditional Buddhist banquet, is presented to guests on exquisite red and black lacquer ware plates. You may take a leisurely walk around the courtyard gardens or unwind in the shared baths before going to bed after supper by donning the cotton robe that has been supplied for you. Typically, traditional Japanese residences include tatami mat (straw mat) flooring and sliding paper doors, which provide guests a pleasant sleeping space with a garden view. A morning bell signals the hour for the prayer service at 6 a.m., and anybody may attend and sit for the whole session before going to breakfast if they are an early riser and would like to experience temple meditation.

Stories of life and fortune

The Okunoin Mausoleum is tucked away in the middle of the temple complex, surrounded by old cedar woodlands and the tombs of many Japanese individuals, including notable historical personalities. It is thought that there are simply resting souls here, not dead ones, and that they will rise anew when Miroku, the future Buddha, arrives. This cemetery is the biggest in Japan, with over 200,000 burials, and the number of graves keeps increasing year. Many tales are hidden away in this place. You will pass a deep well on the route; if you can see your reflection well there, it is said that you will live a long life. A unique stone that represents the weight of the lifter’s sins is located farther on. It is normal to raise it onto a higher shelf by using one hand to hoist it.

Jizo statues

You could see little stone figurines as you go through the cemetery; they are often wearing bibs and soft wool caps to stay warm in the chilly mountain air. These are called Jizo, and in Buddhism they are said to reside between this world and the next. In addition to looking after the souls of small children and newborns before birth, throughout life, and after death, they guard travelers and expectant mothers. They are given red bibs to wear (the Japanese word for red sounds like the word for baby), often by moms who have lost infants, and some women pray to them for fertility or an easy delivery because of their bond with children.

Reaching that

You have two options for getting to Osaka after you get to Tokyo: train or airplane. Trains from Osaka Namba Station depart for Koyasan from there. The Limited Express, which reaches Koyasan in 80 minutes, and the Express, which takes an hour and a half, are the two train kinds that go there during the day. Visitors must change from the train station to a cable car, which takes around five minutes to ascend the mountain, and then to a bus, which takes only ten minutes to reach the town center.

You may even practice your English while traveling since there are English-speaking guides available for cemetery tours and some of the monks at the temples speak the language.

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