Bryson and I recently hit our 9th month of living in a city centre. As convenient and exciting as it is living in such a high traffic area, nothing beats escaping to the mountains for a breath of fresh air.
About one month ago, Bryson and I booked a night at a beautiful buddhist temple on the top of a famous mountain called Mount Koya. The temple we stayed in is over 1,000 years old and sits in a town in the centre of a mountain range (which is said to be shaped like a lotus flower), with 120 other temples surrounding it, as well as a very famous and sacred cemetery.
Most people choose to take the train and cable car to the top of the mountain, but we decided to follow a network of pilgrimage trails from halfway up the mountain. There are many different trails to choose from, the longest taking about 1 week to complete.
We chose to follow a well known spiritual trail that took us about 3 hours. Every 100 meters or so, there stands a stone marker that was placed to help the pilgrims find their way both up and down the mountain range.
Each stone marker has a number carved into it in Kanji. There are 180 markers on the trail, and each are made to represent the five buddhist elements, Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Void.
We couldn’t believe the incredible shades of green along the trail, as well as the beautiful spiritual energy that followed us from the start, all the way to the top of the mountain range.
As we finished our hike and made our way through the town of Koya to our temple, the sun was setting and the air was beautifully cool and crisp.
We were immediately greeted by the owner of the temple and he quickly showed us the facilities.
He showed us the eating area where we would be served a vegan dinner and breakfast the following morning.
He showed us the amazingly warm and ever-flowing bathing areas where we would soak our cold bones in a gorgeous wooden bamboo bath that filled up past our shoulders.
He showed us the area where we would go watch the monks chant the following morning at sunrise.
And he showed us our cozy tatami room, where we would spend our time drinking tea, relaxing, and admiring the view.
The following day we check out after breakfast and walked towards Okunoin Temple. This temple is said to be one of the most sacred places in Japan, as it is known for holding the founder of Shingon Buddhism, who is said to be resting there in an eternal meditation. This temple is also known for having one of the largest cemeteries, with over 200,000 tombstones nestled between the most beautiful old growth forest.
As we walked along the path, the sun was peaking through the trees and water was beginning to evaporate off of the moss covered tombs and statues. It was truly stunning and unlike anything we had ever seen.
As you can imagine, we were very reluctant to the return back to the city.
I think we can see ourselves living like this every day.