We had time to catch up with friends in Osaka before bidding farewell and heading into the mountains to experience Koyasan, which has many sacred Buddhist temples and monasteries. We travelled on the Nankai Railway, which was a lovely journey, although M was a little disgruntled that the ticket seller wouldn’t let him purchase return tickets – still not sure why! At the end of the train journey there is a fantastically angled cable car that takes you to the station where you can then catch a bus to get to your nominated monastery accommodation. Apparently it’s always a good idea to book your bed – and even 9 months ago bookings were tight for our chosen price range and dates. Accommodation at the monastery included breakfast and dinner, all vegan meals.
Staying two nights showed that even at the same monastery each day/night can be quite different – the first night we had a full explanation of the different tofu(s?) used for the meal, and in the morning there was a special breakfast ceremony complete with chanting. The second day/night was much more straightforward, with no explanations, no ceremonies – and for both there were about the same number of people. Sleeping arrangements were the monastic version of a ryokan – shoes off, slippers on (even special toilet slippers), sleeping on the floor (with mattresses – quite comfortable if you like firm beds) and eating seated on the floor (which is havoc on the joints if you are a creaky Westerner). And communal bathrooms, split male/female, including a communal bath – the onsen experience – kind of like a spa, but no swimming costumes allowed. Yochiin was a very friendly monastery – I would recommend it.
Oh, and there were also some fabulous sites to visit during the day.
After, M wanted to go hunting bears, but I didn’t have the right shoes.