SAM IN JAPAN: KOYASAN

Koyasan is located about roughly 2 hours away from Osaka in the Wakayama prefecture area.  Most popular for it’s temple stays and the moss graveyard it is a place that was on my definite to do list whilst in Japan.  After a very scenic train ride most of the day was spent visiting local shrines and checking out the local delicacies and such.  After a quick walk around town we headed towards the ‘Oku no In’, a moss covered graveyard which is a popular tourist attraction.  At first I was a little scared about heading into the graveyard but once you get there it is nothing less than spectacular.  Granite tombstones covered in beautiful dewy moss, lines of little statues wrapped in bright red scarfs amongst the gigantic forest trees was truly an experience I won’t soon forget.

Around 6.00pm after we finished at ‘Oku no In’ we arrived at our accommodation for the night, a temple stay, and  had a soak in the their public bath house.  Since we were staying at a temple the monks only prepare vegetarian meals for dinner, this was not an issue as I had heard the meals at the temple stays were quite delicious.  Soon after we had settled in there was a knock at our door and several monks came in bearing trays of food for each individual.  There were 3 trays to each person each with an array of small tofu and vegetable based dishes placed neatly one after the other.  After the trays were set the monks described each dish and left us to enjoy the food.  The dinner was amazing especially their sesame tofu which I thought was the highlight of the meal.  A rich luscious firm tofu with a hint of sweetness and tones of sesame through out it with a side of their seasonal vegetables and locally made pickles was a treat.

During the night time there isn’t much open as many of the establishments close by about 9.00pm.  So most of the night was spent relaxing and just winding down after the long day.

The next morning we packed our things and made our way around before we headed towards the bus stop to go to the station.  We had missed an earlier bus so we decided to walk there instead as it didn’t seem that far.  We took a detour and in the end hiked down the mountain all the way to the train station which took at least 1 ½ hours, although we were walking at a very slow pace.  The hike was quite enjoyable but if you do decide to go down this way best to wear proper foot wear and to not go alone as the paths can be a little tricky and there isn’t anyone around so be careful.

Well that’s all for Koyasan for this week, next week’s post will be on Yakushima Island.  The place that inspired Hayao Miyazaki’s film “Princess Mononoke”.

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