Thursday, April 9, 2015

Koyasan - 9/21

We headed out from Osaka and made our way up to the top of the pristine, beautiful Mount Koya, also called Koyasan. Koyasan is a gorgeous, mountain getaway with dozens of Buddhist temples and monuments. Most visitors will elect to stay at an actual Buddhist monastery while in Koyasan, as a stay at a monastery is a peaceful, tranquil experience.

As we made our way up the mountain via a combination of trains, cable cars, and buses we welcomed the serenity all around us. There were forests, rivers, bridges, temples, and it all felt incredibly peaceful.

At the monestary we chose based on other travelers recommendations, called Shojoshin Temple, the stay included a 12 course vegetarian meal for dinner and an equally impressive breakfast served in our own private room, and it was also expected that we would attend the 7 am prayer ceremony.

As we walked around the small town of Koyasan we were amazed by the quiet beauty and countless temples and shrines covering the town.

It also just so happened that we were there at the night of the full moon which is the one night a month where visitors are given access to the most holy shrine for a moonlight buddhist ceremony. This experience is one that will live with us forever. We walked for about a mile, carrying lanterns, with about 50 others down a path of buddhist monuments to the huge shrine at the end of the pathway. We then sat as monks performed a rhythmically chanted prayer service. The sound was never broken as the monks chanted in perfect unison, each taking turns to breath while the other continued the chant. Whether or not the religion is something we identified with wasn't important. It was easy to get lost in the chants and feel yourself dreaming, eyes open, as the rhythm continued in the background.

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