Japan – Mt Koya Graveyard At Night

Written on Tuesday, December 20, 2022 by

After a hard days hike around Mt Koya’s beautiful surroundings, it was tough to tear ourselves away from our cozy little room in Edo Inn; a working Buddhist Monastery where we based ourselves whilst in the Mt Koya region. Our bellies were full of delectable Japanese delights and our tatami mats lay waiting on the bamboo floor. We had heard however that the night cemetery tour offered by the inn and the monk who guided it were unmissable. So we wrapped up warm, ventured outside and joined a small group heading on foot towards the graveyard.

I had always associated graveyards with a morbid quality – especially at night, they have definite creepy connotations but venturing into Okunoin grave yard was different. The place exuded calmness and still and the cool and silent winter air only added to the sense of tranquility. The tour itself was fascinating and to learn about Esoteric Buddhism from a practicing monk was amazingly insightful. The tour culminated with a visit to Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum – a beautiful ornate wooden temple. As the legend goes, Kbo Daishi (the founder of esoteric Buddhism in Japan) ventured into part of the temple to meditate. The doors were closed behind him and to this day- over a thousand years later, it is believed he still sits in prayer. The tour was finished with a chant led by the monk which gave us a truly transcendental experience and is something we will never forget.


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