Day 11 in Japan: Koyasan temple stay

A 1.5 hour train ride through forests, hillsides, isolated villages and towns, a steep funicular ride up the final ascent of Mount Koya followed by a short bus ride, and we were out of the big city of Osaka and had arrived at one of the most sacred Buddhist sanctuaries in Japan: Koyasan.

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The highlight of visiting Koyasan is being able to spend a night in one of the 50+ temples that offer accommodations. Ours was the beautifully landscaped Shojoshin-in.

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Making our way to the simple yet breathtaking 3rd floor rooms, tripping all over our polished, slippery and ridiculously loose indoor slippers, at one point watching as they rolled down the stairs, we had to laugh as even the most traditional, old Buddhist temple had a touch of modern Japanese technology: a mini luggage elevator.

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Warding off full blown hangry¬†after missing lunch by about 3 hours, the Pyes opted for a warm, hearty donburi style meal in town (and as Andrew tells me with miso soup, just what we needed), while we succumbed to the far more sophisticated cuisine of prepackaged cold noodle salads from the convenience store. Sarcasm? I don’t even know the meaning!

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A late afternoon of exploring the many temples, pagodas and torii gates of Koyasan and it was time for dinner back at Shojoshin-in. With Yukatas strapped on, we left our slippers of doom behind and made our way down to the dining hall. There we were presented with an assortment of colourful dishes full of vegetarian delights prepared by the cooking practice of Japanese Buddhist monks known as shojin ryori.

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Buddhist temple or Jedi training academy? Either way, the grounds here at our temple stay were amazing.

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A late, dark, eerie walk through the 2km cemetery path, past over 200,000 tombstones, towards Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum (founder of Koyasan and the Shingon sect of Buddhism that is said to be inside in a state of eternal meditation since year 835), with shrieking animal noises that had Viola and myself running at one moment to catch back up to Andrew and Sarah, a spider as big as my palm back in our room as we changed for bed prompting a 911 emergency text to Andrew to come save us, a thunderous hammer from the heal of his leather Wolverine boot sending multiple fragments of body and leg across our tatami mat floors disturbing the complete silence throughout the temple, yeah, no wonder I was afraid to fall asleep!

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