Japan is a great destination for a myriad of interesting reasons. And it is also one of the best places in the world to go on a spiritual journey. Whether it is to simply slow down and take time to get away from the frenzy of the daily grind or to reflect and seek enlightenment in your life, the country has a lot of pilgrimage sites where you can find serenity. A trip that takes you from the former Imperial capital city of Kyoto to Koyasan (Mount Kōya) is one of the best spiritual journeys you can take in Japan. Here are just a few of the top reasons to visit the sacred mountain.
Nature’s beauty and tranquility
Koyasan or Mount Kōya is a sacred place that is home to lush forests and woodlands. It is home to many historic temples and pagodas that have become part of the beautiful landscape. This center of Shingon Buddhism is a tranquil place to explore the surroundings and experience the austere life of the monks who live there.
The shukubō experience
With over 50 shukubō (temple lodgings) in town, Koyasan provides the perfect place to experience the traditional lifestyle of Buddhist monks. Guests can stay overnight in one of these temple lodgings, enjoy the simple but tasty shojin-ryori Buddhist cuisine, and take part in the morning prayers and rituals.
Take at the Okunoin cemetery at night
The Okunoin cemetery is one of the must-see sights in this pilgrimage site. It is home to over 200,000 unique and fascinating gravestones and memorials. While it is an awe-inspiring place at any time of the day, the darkness of the night lends a surreal beauty to what is already a dramatic sight. The lanterns that line the stone paths through the graveyard cast shadows to the otherworldly scene. A visit to the cemetery is not complete without paying respect to the sacred Mausoleum of Kobo Dashi — the founder Shingon Buddhism. It is also at night when you can see the breathtaking sight of the Toronto Hall (Hall of Lamps) which is lit by more than 10,000 lanterns that are said to have been providing light to the place for more than 900 years.