Koyasan is a small town just outside of Osaka. It doesn’t look far on the map, but it ended up taking me about 3 hours of train, tram up the mountain, and a bus ride to get to my accommodation. It’s a town founded by Kobo Daishi, he’s considered to be the founder of Japanese Buddhism. So the town is a weird mix of monks, local and international tourists visiting.
Okunoin is the famous cemetery in Koyasan. Anyone can be buried there, as long as they follow Kobo Daishi’s teaching. A lot of big Japanese companies have created a huge mural to remember the earthquake victims there too.
Tombstones differ in shapes and sizes. Some look like a house made out of stone, some as small as the size of my hand. But it’s the mix of rich and poor, big and small under Kobo Daishi that’s beautiful.
Twice every day, they bring food for Kobo Daishi who’s meant to be in a state of eternal meditation, followed by a prayer in the morning. I got up at 5.30 to go watch the 6 am prayer. Walk there was eery but beautiful. The path to the main temple is lit by hundreds of stone lamps, which was kindly donated by the founder of Panasonic – he’s also buried there too.
I like going to cemeteries. But this one, I kept going back again and again before I left Koyasan. Early in the morning or around 5 pm onwards is the best time to stroll around, during the day is full of people on day trips.
The sound of the cemetery is so serene. Birds chirping, chanting in distance, bells ringing from the nearby temples, water flowing down the stream which seems to run throughout the town.