Buddhism is a large part of Japanese history, the customs and ideals of Buddhism capture the hearts of those visiting Japan. Temples are often a “must see” for people coming to Japan, but if you want a more immersive experience why not stay at a monastery and experience the daily life on a modern Buddhist monk.
Ekoin is situated on Mount Koya in Wakayama south of Osaka city. One of the greatest lures for tourists in this area is the Oku-no-in cemetery as here is Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhisms mausoleum. This is also the largest cemetery in Japan, with over 200,000 tombstones on the two-kilometer walk to Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum. This is truly an ancient place, many of the tombstones have been reclaimed by nature and are crumbling and covered in moss. As you take the walk to the cemetery you will find yourself under the vast canopies of ancient cedar trees. The Hall of Lamps (Torodo Hall) is also a sight to behold, where 10,000 lanterns are kept eternally lit. Beneath the floor also stand 50,000 statues on the anniversary of the day that Kobo went into eternal meditation.
With this rich history, you’d think that this area offered enough, however you can experience staying in traditional Japanese ryokan and experience the habits of a Buddhist monk. The accommodation here is very traditional, tatami matt flooring and futon to sleep upon. During the day, you can be taught how to write out Buddhist sutra in Japanese kanji just like monks do. Even the meals are a taste of Buddhism, all vegetarian, a cuisine that the monks here have truly perfected. This type of food is known as shojin ryori, Zen Buddhist vegetarian cuisine. If that isn’t enough to make anyone wants to go for a visit there are also onsen baths to unwind in.
Ekoin Temple Koyasan
You can also engage in other Buddhist temple activities, such as meditation. Lessons are delivered daily in both Japanese and English, so don’t let language be a barrier. You can also join in with morning prayers here and witness the monks burning the sutra. You are even welcomed to hold memorials for your ancestors, a practice often done at this temple. Prices start at 10,000Y and include breakfast and dinner. Delve into the depths of Japanese history and nature and stay at Ekoin.