What to Expect
Mt.Koya ,or Koyasan, was founded about 1,200 years ago by Kobo Daishi (Kukai) as the monastic center of Shingon Mikkyo, or literally "True World Esoteric Buddhism." With an altitude of 800 meters, the mountain top is the home of over 100 temples and monasteries. Koyasan was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List as the "Sacred Sited and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range" in 2004.
I would like to take you to Danjo garan, Kongobuji Temple and Okunoin Gobyo.
There are more than 10 buildings including Kondo, Konpon Daito in Danjo garan.
Kondo was built by Kobo Daishi in 819. Buddhist services important for the whole mountain complex are performed here. It has been repeatedly destroyed, and the present hall was built for the 7th time in 1932. Ashuku Nyorai is the principal deity.
Konpon daito is a typical example of Danjo garan. This towering pagoda completed in 1937 has a lacquer finish and stands 48.5 meters in height. Inside this uniquely designed stupa is a three dimensional mandala demonstrating the Shingon teachings.
In Kongobuji Temple the religious affairs of the 3,600 Shingon sect branch temples nationwide are overseen on Koyasan. Magnificient pictures by historically famous artists decorate the rooms such as Ohiroma, Interior of Betsuden, Shibetsuden and the like. Furthermore the temple has a rock garden called "BANRYUTEI", the largest rock garden in Japan (2,349 square meters). The design is of a pair of dragons emerging from a sea of clouds to protect the okuden.
Japanese cedar trees tower over the 2 km path leading from Ichinohashi to Okunoin Gobyo. More than 200,000 grave stones, from military commanders to the common folk, stand in lines between the trees. Kukai's deciples erected a mausoleum upon his death in Okunoin Gobyo. This holly grounds is central to devotion to Kukai, and it's still visited by many people today.
You can enjoy Koyasan in about five and half hours because it takes about an hour to pick you up from your hotel and back again, and about four hours between Namba station and Koyasan station on Nankai railway, using the train and cable car to make a round trip. As for lunch, you can enjoy a vegetarian meal such as vegetable tempura, sesami tofu, black beans, udon with mountain vegetable and the like. It was the ascetic monks that cooked meals in Koyasan, because no women were admitted on the premises until 1867.
Why don't we visit Koyasan, the sacred center of Buddhism, and enjoy a vegetarian meal like the monks?