It was day 2 of our weekend trip to Koyasan and it was pouring when we woke up. It was a little disheartening to see how much it was raining coupled with the fact that we had tiny umbrellas (and I decided to not bring a warm sweater…). We packed up our belongings, took a deep breath, and took the train back up to Koyasan.
Five minutes walking outside and we were soaked; our jeans and socks were soaked. We headed to our first stop of the day: Okunoin Temple. This is where the founder of Shingon Buddhism, Kobo Daishi, is enshrined. The temple itself is the most important and holiest place in Koyasan.
On the way to the temple is a graveyard of religious followers and important figures in Japanese history. Companies also sponsor grave sites, dedicating them to people (or even insects. There’s a grave that a termite company dedicated to all the termites they kill.) that may have lost their lives at the expense of the company.
The weather made this graveyard creepier that it already is. The rain, tall forest trees, and overcast sky gave the graveyard an eerie atmosphere. I’m not sure why, but my friends and I were a little scared. Although it was creepy, the whole area was so beautiful.
This is the entrance to the temple, where you wash and purify your hands. Okunoin Temple is the last stop on the 88 Temple Pilgrimage with goes around Shikoku and to Koyasan.
Because this is the most sacred part in all of Koyasan and the resting place of one of the most important religious figures in Japanese history, you are unable to take pictures beyond this bridge. You can see a glimpse of the temple between the trees in the back. The temple was beautiful. The inside was dark, with a red and gold interior. People were praying towards Kobo Daishi’s shrine.
This is one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited. It was strange and calming to walk through the graveyard amongst the tall trees and to enter such a holy and important place. It’s amazing how much history is up on that mountain.