Saturday, June 1, 2013

Koyasan: the definition of serenity

And I thought Nara was serene! Koyasan is a peaceful and tranquil mountain-top town of centuries old monasteries and temples, and a pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Mark and I stayed at a monastery – the same one he stayed at when he came to Japan almost three years ago – and like his experience last time, we were the only two guests in the entire place! The long hallways were silent, save for the occasional pitter patter of the resident cat.

It was a traditional ryokan experience, sleeping on futons on tatami mats, and our lovely room looked out over the beautiful garden and coy pond. This unique B&B includes use of the onsen (bath/hot-tub), and a delectable, vegetarian, multi-course dinner and breakfast. Sort of like Japanese tapas. Or edible art. So many new and interesting flavours. And so much! Monks might eat with austerity, but they provide quite the feast for their guests!

We were also invited to join the head monk for his morning prayers. Since the morning prayer wasn’t until 7am, we woke up at 5am and walked along the Okunoin, the two-kilometre path lined with memorials, graves, and monuments, set amongst towering cedars, and leads to Gobyo Mausoleum where the founder of Koyasan, Kobo Daishi Kukai, is buried. It was so lovely walking amongst all this history, hearing the wind through the branches, while the morning sun began to brighten the forest.

Riding the cable car up to the top of Mount Koya.

Mark (Obi Wan) in the yukata robes they provide.

Our dinner and breakfast feasts were so beautifully presented!

Torii gates and monuments along the cemetery path.

The path wove through beautiful, towering Japanese cedars.

One of the many, many delightful examples of Engrish seen everywhere in Japan (and throughout Asia).

Banryu Tei zen garden, Kongobu-ji temple.


  1. What an amazing looking meal! Everything so carefully prepared!

  2. That picture of Mark in the robe is amazing and it would be my profile picture for the rest of time.

  3. That meal looks amazing, and such beautiful statues. Craig's right, Mark looks badass in that shot! Maybe Craig should just use it as his profile pic anyways.

    Katelin xo