Travel is therapy to my soul; travelling to Japan, specifically Mt Koyasan has been a one of a kind lifetime experience; a spiritual connection. I decided to visit Mt Koyasan because I wanted to see, feel and understand the spiritual side to Japan. I was curious to learn about their spirituality and beliefs.
Mount Koyasan -Japan’s Holiest Mountains
Mount Koyasan is atop Japan’s sacred mountains. It is definitely worth to spend a night in the Buddhist temples run by the monks & it is a Unesco World Heritage site.
All depending where you will leave from, there are different ways to get to Mount Koyasan. You can use your Japan Rail Pass ( more on this ) instead I left from Kyoto with a direct bus from Kyoto to Mount Koyasan. This bus route only recently opened and I was so happy because it was so simple.
Approaching the the mountainous region,& to be drawn to the impressive view immediately awakens the sense of sacredness surrounding the mountains , unsurprisingly surreal . I instinctively felt connected to nature & led me to believe this connection will continue with the people and myself.
I stayed at Eko-in Temple & it is one of the nicest temples in Koyasan. As I cross over the temple’s gate, silence prevails and demands respect . I immediately understood this was going to be a journey on spirituality & inner discovery.
The temple welcomes you with this beautiful garden, a soft sound of passing water & beautiful earth colours surrounding it. Almost as if nature painted this infinite beauty to welcome me into this anticipated experience.
Now it was time to enter the temple and meet Nori, the monk who has hosted me . Please remember you must always remove your shoes before entering the temple because it is sacred. Please be mindful and respect this.
My Meeting with Nori
It is important to be aware of the etiquettes for visiting Buddhist Temples and interacting with Buddhist monks. Learn them so you show respect to them .
Upon my meeting with Nori he offered to take me for a guided tour around Koyasan to practice his assigned tour. I openly accepted not only being intrigued by what I would learn about the history and culture of Koya but learning a little about the life of a monk.
To me travelling and interacting with locals go hand in hand. This interaction brings depth and meaning to my travel experience. You see, I already have a natural curiosity about people and culture so I was happy for this.
Through my guided tour, I learnt about Shingon Buddhism , introduced by Kobo Daishi in Japan in 805. Shingon Buddhism is a denomination of Esoteric Buddhism. It is about secret teachings, that is not available to everyone.
They create a special bond to the Buddha to become spiritual united beings. Nori described it clearly to help me understand the complexity of different types of Buddhism.
In Japan , Shingon Buddhism is considered Esoteric Buddhism.
After my tour, I learnt how meditation is so important to have in your life. Nori recited his story how he started & the benefits it brings. After we went for a 30 minute group meditation. Nori taught us Ajikan meditation , practiced in Shingon Buddhism.
I was able to sit and meditate for 30 minutes but I did hear some guests shuffling due to feeling uncomfortable.
The Rituals to Follow
Once you are shown in your room, you have to follow & respect a ritual held at the temple. After vegetarian breakfast is served, you have a morning practice followed by the Goma Fire which symbolizes a cleanse to spiritually and psychologically being. The burning wood symbolizes human desires, the core of all human suffering.
I really loved my stay at Ekoin Temple. I came to Japan to learn about their spiritual side and left with more knowledge and a deep experience than expected. The monks are exceptionally kind and always display compassion; a fundamental truth to Buddhist truth & philosophy of life.
I left Mount Koyasan not as a tourist ( I never do anyway ) , but as a transformational traveling experience that connected me to nature, humanity and myself. A big thank you to Nori inviting me to Ekoin Temple , I have appreciated this experience.
If you want more information and room rates on Ekoin Temple , please check it on Booking.com
Although I was hosted at Ekoin Temple, all opinions are truly my own.