Monday, August 5, 2019

Japan Tour: Koyasan

Koyasan, Japan

 The mountaintop place of Koyasan with its ancient cedar groves and Buddhist temples felt other-worldly and mystical. Koyasan, a UNESCO site, preserves Shingon Buddhism, a sect began in 805 by Kobo Daishi. The town only has Buddhist temples for housing, and we stayed at Ekoin Temple, where we slept on tatami mats, ate vegan food prepared by the monks, and witnessed their meditation, chanting, and a morning prayer ritual that involved burning wooden sticks with petitions. We had a wonderful walk through the Okunoin cemetery with graves and mausoleums of shoguns and emperors. This ancient cemetery also had many small stone statues tucked here and there, near imposing grave markers and enormous cedar tree roots. The figures had knitted head coverings and red aprons; these small Buddha figures represented dead babies and indicated that infant mortality was high and that their families grieved for their dead babies.  

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