[JAPAN 2015] Day 11: Mt. Koya (Koyasan)

I'm not sure how I came upon the idea of visiting Mt. Koya (I read up a lot about all the interesting places to visit at japan-guide.com and there was a lot of internet-hopping involved), but it stuck and I decided to allocate a day to visit Mt. Koya - and mind you, this was during Golden Week. Obviously I had no idea what I had gotten myself into lol.

Usually it's recommended for you to stay in a shukubo temple lodging for a night at least, where you would get to experience the buddhist vegetarian cuisine as well as getting to sit in the monks' morning chant sessions (plus you get to experience Okunoin at night!). It would've been a great experience, but since I had limited time in Japan I decided to just do a one-day trip from Osaka to Mt. Koya. Maybe next time it'd be an interesting experience to stay in a shukubo temple :)

I travelled from Nanba station to Mt. Koya and bought a day pass for the train and cable car ride. The train itself was PACKED oh my God - I even got up earlier (around 7am) in hopes that the Golden Week crowd wouldn't be so bad.

NOPE. Had to stand for 2-3 hours all the way to Mt. Koya and then stand for another 2-3 hours on the way back to Osaka hahahahahaha. So yeah. Burned a few calories so that's cool I guess, whatever.

Look at the crowd - LOOK AT IT!!!


Anyway, back to Mt. Koya. So basically, the founder (and arguably the most influential man) of Buddhism in Japan, Kobo Daishi, was said to have remained in eternal meditation in one of the sites here, called Okunoin. Okunoin is basically a path lined with cemeteries, and the path leads you to the Ichi-no-Hashi Bridge where you will then enter a temple that's said to be Kobo Daishi's final resting place.

The Okunoin path itself was amazing - it's not exactly eerie, but there's a solemness to it that makes the experience a bit surreal. There were quite a lot of people who were walking this path, but even that doesn't take away from the experience.

A group of kindergarten children, seemingly on a field trip (seriously why do you guys get so many cool field trips), was walking past when the teacher asked them to talk to me (SO CUTE. They asked me haltingly "where are you from" TOO CUTE). I guess they were doing some sort of survey on foreign visitors visiting Okunoin and the kids asked me where I came from. As a reward for answering them, they gave me the cutest origami to have ever graced my working table.

Once you get past the bridge leading to the Okunoin Temple, you are respectfully asked not to photograph the temple inside, hence no photos of the temple.

I couldn't go to Mt. Koya without experiencing the shojin ryori (Buddhist vegeterian cuisine), so I stopped by Hanabishi and had to wait for an hour or more to get a table lol. As expected, Golden Week is truly terrifying.

Couldn't resist buying a bento from Hanabishi and ate it for dinner :P
Even the packaging was exquisite
I'm glad I visited Mt. Koya, even though it was during the Golden Week holidays #noregretslol. But honestly it would've been a great experience to stay one night in a shukubo lodging, and it would give you more time to travel around all the other great sites Koyasan has to offer. Would highly recommend a 2D1N visit to Koyasan if you're ever in the Osaka region.

Go to Day 7-10 (Nanba, Kobe & USJ) | Go to Day 12 (Osaka)
Japan 2015 Masterpost