Well, it took me twenty-five years, six trains, a funicular and a bus, but I finally got to visit Koyasan.
Back in the day, when I came to Japan as an exchange student, I was asked to give a talk to my class about Australia, my family life and so on, and do a general Q&A. One of the questions was which place I most wanted to visit in Japan. When I replied “Koyasan”, the class burst into laughter.
Turns out exchange students aren’t supposed to hanker after places steeped in history, religion and natural beauty. My class recommended Disneyland. I haven’t been there yet, though.
I stayed overnight at a temple in Koyasan last week, enjoying communal bathing and traditional temple food in the evening.
In the morning, I rose early to chant with the monks before heading off to trek around the town and surrounding hills, which are filled with breathtaking sites/sights.
It was peaceful and calming and absolutely unforgettable and I hope it won’t be 25 years before I get to go again. On the train on the way down I had an epiphany about my verse novel, which will now include Koyasan in some interesting ways. Perhaps I can use that as an excuse to head back.
I am off to Hokkaido on Monday, coming back via Basho’s old stamping ground of Matsushima and will be offline until Saturday. I will no doubt have more raving to do on my return.
Natsukashiiiiiii! How good is the food!?!? I took my sisters to Koya-san a few (ten???) years ago and have an identical shot of the evening meal, minus the duck 😉 Did you manage to identify anything on the plate? I think half of what we ate was a complete mystery 🙂
Oh, what Cristy said! I could weep, just looking at that beautiful meal — and the futon — laid out for you. I can still imagine the feel of tatami under my bare feet, and I miss it so much.
I've never been to Koyasan, but I used to live in Sendai and have taken the boat trip around Matsushima several times.
Good for you, finding inspiration for your writing! I'm trying to be more open to this myself.
Cristy, I wasn't sure about a lot of the food, though some of it was variations on familiar things. Lots of tofu in there, in various guises. It was amazing, all of it.
Mary – yes, the futon, the meal, the tatami, and the lovely, gentle monks. It was so completely calming and grounding and many more things besides.
And I was in Sendai yesterday on my way back from Hokkaido (I spent the previous night in Hakodate)! My plan was to spend last night in Oku Matsushima but in my travel-fog I had failed to account for it being Friday and there was no accommodation to be had. I'm going to try and fit it into another trip I have planned up that way in a week or so. Do you have any tips for me (other than book a room in advance)?