Mount Kōya

I curse at the alarm. It’s been awhile since I’ve last slept in… Can’t wait for the day. No matter there’s a train to catch.

I leave my backpack behind while I go to the station to catch the train to Koyasan. There’s a promotional ticket that includes the buses in town. The train ride goes quickly through a forested area. To go up the mountain there’s a special train and then a bus will drive you to downtown.

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I’m surprised that there’s a town here. Sources that I read talked about staying over night in temples and about the long cemetery lined walkway. The words stir up imagery of wooded areas, narrow roads and paths along the mountainsides. That is not the case. It is a tourist area after all.

It’s colder than I thought it would be. Although it was warm the pass few days I didn’t think that the mountains would be much colder. I really need more layers. Also a hot drink and as usual, there’s no shortage of vending machines. I feel a little warmer. There’s nothing else I can do but keep moving. I walk through the cemetery first.

The lighting creates high contrast shadows and the photos don’t do it justice.

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I veer off to the left and end up in a newer cemetery, internally squealing at the sight of a couple red leaved trees.


Not sure how to continue from here, I back track to the main path.

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The walkway ends at Okunoin temple. Upon crossing Gobyonohashi Bridge, a man tells me pictures aren’t allowed here outside the temple.

I see a group standing around a small booth quite amused. It holds the Miroku Stone. It is said that the stone will feel lighter to good people and heavier to bad people. I suppose they’re laughing because no one wants to show they’re struggling to lift the stone.

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The temple (mausoleum?) is just ahead. The lanterns are lovely, wrapping around the veranda. There’s another building next door, Torodo Hall, and peeking through the open doors you see even more lanterns. I remove my shoes reluctantly, the floors are so cold. The room is filled with row after row of golden lanterns. It’s so beautiful! I know I shouldn’t be taking photos but there’s no one here…

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Outside the hall, is this mound. I’m not sure what it is about.

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I continue on another walkway through a more recent part of the cemetery till I reach the main street. I head one way toward another site and spot these lovely trees.

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The sites there were less spectacular so I turn back toward Garan.

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There’s still one more stop– Daimon Gate. More importantly, I’m hungry. It seems that the restaurants here are only open for lunch and it’s late. I suppose I could have convinced a restaurant to make one more meal but end up at my old friend, Family Mart.


Reviving my spirit, I march on.


Daimon Gate sits on the edge like an entranceway to all visitors. The trail is across the street where I took this photo. I love the small details.

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To the side of the gate is another trail with torii gates.


I walk up thinking there’s a small shrine but the map says it will lead me back to the train station. I stop when I reach a high point, most of the views are blocked by trees or high grass. I turn around back to the road…

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I’m debating whether I should stay and see if the lanterns are lit at night. It’s tough as the trains are not so frequent, plus I need to pick up my backpack and check into the next hostel in Kyoto. My indecisiveness leads me to miss the bus back to the cemetery so I wait for the bus to the train station. Oh well.

Of course, when I arrive in Kyoto I’m grateful for leaving when I did! I booked a hostel near the train station but in a quiet non-tourist area. I power walk like my life depends on it and make it in time before the reception desk closes.

After check in, I search for dinner. Nothing exciting… I check the weather and get ready for another day and another hostel.


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