2014
06.20

SYNOPSIS:  About the other five parts of the UNESCO monuments that comprise the Koyasan Mountain cultural site: a gate, a stupa, two tombs, the Shingon headquarters, and the training center for future monks.  About a nightly adventure at  the monastery and  Buddhist morning ceremonies.  About statistics that make your head spin.  But all of this not in this order.

 

In 1832 as one of my sources notes, there were 1812 temples on mount Koya.  Today, only (!) 117 are left.  And that for town a fraction the size of Ann Arbor.  I can only wonder how many active monks there are in town.  2000 perhaps?  Even 5000 would not surprise me.  52 of these temples are known as shukubo, providing lodgings and food for visitors following the old tradition of taking in pilgrims and wandering monks.  I lived in temple #51, the Sekishoin, definitely not one of the first choices for most visitors and guide books, and one of the more run-down temples, but the cheapest one I could find.  I had no complaints:  my room was spacious — you count rooms here by the size of the tatami mats, that means I had 8+2, that is 8 mats plus two feet of wooden space, I had a private bath, one of those fancy heated toilets, even a heated mirror (yes!), a closet, a nice window ledge, a pleasant view into the temple garden, and there was the public bath downstairs.  I was provided with a Japanese jukata (bathrobe) every day, towels, tea, and a traditional breakfast.  I had a TV — useless as there is no English-speaking channel anywhere — and most importantly, I had on and off wifi.  A Buddhist temple with wifi even if it did not work reliably — we have come a long way!… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY