Sunday, 14 May 2017

Japan's Most Sacred Mountain

MT. KOYA, one of Japan’s most sacred sites, in 2015 celebrated 1,200 years since its esoteric Buddhist dojo was opened by Kobo Daishi Kukai. Kobo Daishi was motivated by the desire to educate people who would work for the happiness of others and pray for eternal peace and security for the country and society.

Still today Mt. Koya is one of Japan's premier training centres for Esoteric Buddhism with dozens of temples, gardens, and old growth trees. Kobo Daishi is believed to still live here, sitting in eternal meditation in an elaborate mausoleum. On Mt. Koya you can immerse yourself in the mystical world of Japanese Buddhism while staying in one of the dozens of temples.

Things to do on Mt. Koya:

Spend a night in a temple
Temple lodging or shukubo, as they are known, are a great way to experience a quieter, simpler, more spiritual life. A stay includes vegetarian food, an early rise, and participation in morning Buddhist services. The most famous place in Japan for shukubo is Mt. Koya, where about 50 temples offer lodgings.

The area around Mt. Koya is known as the Kumano region and it is packed with sacred places. A network UNESCO World Heritage listed pilgrimage routes called the Kumano Kodo lead to these isolated spiritual hot spots. Along the trail are quaint accommodations and soothing hot springs, including the Kawayu Onsen in Hongu, where hot mineral waters bubbles to the surface of the river.

Ajikan Meditation
At Kongobu-ji Temple on Mt. Koya, you can practice ajikan meditation in Japan’s largest rock garden, which is ordinarily closed to the public. Ajikan is a form of breathing exercise and meditation practiced in Shingon Buddhism. Meditate in tranquility amidst the pure aura of Mount Koya, still the mind, and leave your busy life. Monks are on hand to guide beginners, so this is an excellent addition to your visit to Mt. Koya. Find out more here,

Shakyo Sutra Copying
Studying the Heart Sutra intently is said to lead to enlightenment. A Kongobu-ji Temple you can join a shakyo session to copy this sutra one character at a time, paying close attention to the meaning contained in every word. If you focus your entire action on this task, you will forget idle thoughts and still your mind. The activity is recommended as a way to develop a tranquil, bountiful state of mind. 

Flower Arrangement
Kobo Daishi teaches us that, ‘We are but one part of the universe, and all plants, animals, and sentient beings have the same life. We must live together in harmony with that around us.” Bringing out the life force and vitality of flowers and understanding their true nature is at the essence of Koyasan Flower Arrangement. Classes are available on Mt. Koya, but also in Osaka and Tokyo.

Forest Therapy
Forest therapy is a program that lets you regain your energies amidst the natural beauty, scents, sounds, and textures of the forest. Witness nature with your five senses as you unwind. In addition to being designated a World Heritage Site for the sacred areas and temple roads along the Kii Mountains, Mt. Koya was also been designated a forest therapy site in 2007.

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Picture Credit: By baggio4ever, CC BY 3.0,

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