The holiest mountain in Japan

Japan day 4

It was pouring down when I got up, but luckily it had stopped by the time I was done with breakfast. It was still incredibly humid, but that had been the case for all of the other days as well.

I took the metro to Tokyo Station and from there I caught the Shinkansen, the “bullet train” to the outskirts of Osaka. The city and the surroundings slid by at an extraordinary pace. I guess thats what going 300 km per hour (~200mph) looks like. That’s about twice speed of our Danish DSB trains. Lunch was udon noodles, that I had brought with me on the train. I then caught the metro and then a smaller regional train that dragged itself up an increasingly winding and steep railroad. The surroundings turned increasingly green and soon the train stopped because it couldn’t go any further. Not that it was meant to, but a cable car brought us the last way up to Koyasan, the holiest mountain in Japan. 

I caught the bus from there and thus finally made it all the way to shojoshin In, the temple where I’d be spending the night. You had to wear loafers provided by the temple, but I quickly made my first faux pas by not taking those off when stepping onto the tatami mats. Not a biggie, though.

I made my way to the Oku-no-in graveyard for esoteric buddhism. It was was with innumerable weathered and moss-covered gravestones and monuments and surrounded by tall cedars. People want to be buried here as this is where the Future Buddha will appear. It also harbored the mausoleum of Kobo-Daishi, the founder of the buddhistic sect. Underneath it was thousands of miniature buddhas and next to it a temple filled with thousands of oil lanterns some of which had been lit for almost a millennium. It all had an unique aura to it and the only thing that comes close to it that I’ve experienced that seemed as spiritual has to be the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. 

Back at the temple, dinner was served, which was a smorgasbord of small vegetarian dishes immaculately presented in numerous finely decorated pieces of pottery. Most of the time I had absolutely no idea what I was eating, but it surely was interesting and (mostly) tasty. 

Lastly I took a bath in the temple’s onsen (more on onsens later, I guess) and went for a night stroll through the graveyard before I went to bed.

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