Saturday, November 21, 2015

Wakayama trip: Koyasan

wakayama koyasan koya-san unesco heritage japan mass cemetery
We were looking for elsewhere to visit besides Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe and chose Wakayama because we had never been there. A quick google reveals Koyasan, a UNESCO world heritage site that consists of a mass cemetery and temples set on a mountain. Commuting time was around 4 hours from Osaka that consists of train, ropeway and bus, so it isn't too bad compared to 5-6 hours to southern parts of Wakayama.

kansai pass
We bought this 3-day Kansai pass for 5,200yen that allows unlimited rides within private rail lines and buses in Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, Wakayama and Nara. Too bad they don't have a one-day pass or 5-days pass, only 3-days.

After we reach Koyasan station, we had to transfer to a ropeway up the mountain. It was steepest I had ever sat after those at Mt Takao near Tokyo and Hong Kong.

When you reach to the top, you have to transit to buses to get around. There were one-day bus passes that you can buy but we were thrilled that we could use our Kansai passes, so be sure to get it! Just get down at the Okunoin-mae stop.

wakayama koyasan koya-san unesco heritage japan mass cemetery
Okunoin means the temple inside. To reach there you have to pass by a very scenic mass cemetery that has been around for hundreds of years.

Here is a panoramic view of the surrounding and pathway.

wakayama koyasan koya-san unesco heritage japan mass cemetery
Almost like ruins but most of the tombstones appears to be well-taken care of by their descendants.

wakayama koyasan koya-san unesco heritage japan mass cemetery
Each statue has a red bib to keep them warm from the cold mountain weather. It seems that after death, families would setup these small monks or statues to represent the deceased to collect offerings and prayers.

wakayama koyasan koya-san unesco heritage japan mass cemetery

wakayama koyasan koya-san unesco heritage japan mass cemetery
Because the tombstones had been around for a very long time, many had blended with nature, as if they were pots of plants.

wakayama koyasan koya-san unesco heritage japan mass cemetery

wakayama koyasan koya-san unesco heritage japan mass cemetery
The moss actually felt good like fur, not dirty at all.

wakayama koyasan koya-san unesco heritage japan mass cemetery
It is an extremely wet November so there were still remainders of dew and rain.

Here is a really nice video I took showing the atmosphere of the place.

After around 1-2 hours of trail (depending if you stopped to take side tracks or take photos), we reached the inner temples.

wakayama koyasan koya-san unesco heritage japan
It's beautiful when there is water and red leaves.

wakayama koyasan koya-san unesco heritage japan
There were Buddhist statues aligned along the river and many people lined up to wash their hands and mouth before entering the temples to offer their prayers.

wakayama koyasan koya-san unesco heritage japan mass cemetery
Luckily you do not need to walk the long trail back. There is a side track to a newer cemetary to reach the bus stop.

wakayama koyasan koya-san unesco heritage japan mass cemetery
Tombstones here are very new, like this rocket from a company that makes aerospace equipment to dedicate to people who lost their lives on the job.

One last stop to buy your souvenirs and charms before you exit.

The Katsu-oyakodon (fried pork cutlet on rice topped with egg) was extremely good after our long walk.

There was still light so we wanted to catch a few more attractions before going back to Osaka.

We visited Kongobuji Temple, which was recommended by the bus driver.

There were some red leaves there. Somehow I feel the red leaves this season is not so great because of the unusual amount of rainfall and warm temperatures.

kongobuji temple koyasan wakayama
Pose with the mascot Koyakun!

When we came out it was dark and we decided to visited Daimon (big gate) and hoped that there will be night illumination.

daimon koyasan wakayama
We walked for around 20-30min and when we reached there, nope it was almost completely DARK! Very creepy.... seems that all temples and even the gates close by 4.30pm.

We checked the bus schedule and it seems pretty darn worrying that the last bus was around 5-6pm... The bus frequency was also pathetic at only one bus per hour and starts running from as early as 6am. The streets were also not well-lit. After waiting for 30min or so, we finally saw a bus coming, we were saved!

I definitely recommend staying in one of the temples there to experience the place fully from early morning to late afternoon and perhaps travel to other parts of Wakayama to experience beautiful nature. I will definitely love to visit other parts of Wakayama in the future.

Official website: http://eng.shukubo.net/

2 comments:

  1. Mt. Koya is awesome! ^__^
    I really want to visit again, maybe next time with an overnight stay. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I were to go again I might do that too :)

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