(Pls tell me the day)
Koyasan - The Night in the Temple
On a beautiful, ________(Hey Fred, it was a saturday)___ evening, we arrived at Koyasan, a lovely village with jaw-dropping temples and shrines. We stayed at a temple for the night, called Fukuchi-in. (A Temple lodging, which is also called a Shukubo) This is how it went...
On our short 10k pilgrimage to Koyasan, the weather forecast completely fooled us by saying it would be cold and rainy, but it was actually about 25 degrees Celsius! So we were way overdressed and scorching hot...
(The Nankai-Koya line train from Osaka-Namba to Kii-Hosokawa meant we could meet up with the Choishi-Michi Pilgrimage Route, but also shorten the walk by about 4 hours, which gave us lots of time to get from Osaka to the Temple before the check-in deadline at 5pm)
We arrived at our room at no less than 15:30. By then it actually was cold and raining. We were kind of relieved though. Our room number was 108 ( I’m really surprised I remembered that! ) . When we opened our door, we loved that everything was traditional! There were tutami (tatami) mats ( NOT 4 because 4 in Japanese makes the same sound as DEATH... Quite dark, really ) , there were statues of the Japanese sacred fish, ‘Karp’ , (Koi Carp) and there was even a 1980s TV!!! ( Hehehe... ) That’s true BTW. (We didn't use it..!)
It was a lovely little place (a 'lovely little place?!' It was STUNNING!). When we settled in, we thought it would be a good idea to go to the public onsen. It was quite annoying though, because you weren’t allowed swimsuits. You had to go in your birthday suit...! Luckily, there weren't many people there and the onsens were separated into boys and girls. There was one inside and one outside, both about 45 degrees Celsius. After the onsen, you can go in a sauna which was about 90 degrees Celsius (90? are you sure about that Fred?), in which you had 5 minute hourglass ( more like minuteglass! ) .
When we got dried, we went back to our cozy room and got into these really cool pyjama-like clothes! (they were called Yukata) ( To me they looked like fancy karate robes. ) We ordered a set dinner for each of us, but Daisy and I shared. It was a vegetarian temple, and it’s illegal to bring meat inside, although there’s a Family Mart (a local convenience store) right down the road that sells a lot of meat... (The monks train for years to perfect their speciality vegetarian food - it's called Shojin Ryori) We tried pretty much everything, but ended up eating a lot more rice than everything else... I have to say, no offence, I really struggled with the food. My mum said if you eat there for a few weeks, it’s a way to lose a few pounds. (TBF most things were incredible, and also exquisitely presented, but it was rather like playing Russian Roulette with your tastebuds. There was the odd mouthful that no matter how much you chewed, your brain just would not follow with a swallow, IYKWIM...)
When we finished lunch (it was dinner, Fred), we went to a really fun calligraphy class! We got to do Japanese writing, but we didn’t know what all of it meant. We wrote down the date, our name and our wish in our native language. My mum’s language was probably the language your parents tell you not to say... (Hey, I was on my best behaviour there!)
When we finished, we returned to our room exhausted, and lied down on our floor mattresses that the monks had put down for us. That’s when we realised we needed to go to the public bathrooms and brush our teeth. (After 9 months of travelling, we're pretty used to sharing bathrooms now...)
*mum and dad snore* (Nope Fred, just your Dad)
In the morning, we got up at 05:40 and went to morning prayers with the monks at 06:00. We had to sit down until it was your turn to put incense powder in the pot by the gold Buddha statue. You sit back down and listen to the prayers silently until the hour is done. (Still can't quite believe you managed it! V impressed ;)
We were all sad and relived at the same time when we left. (relieved? you're just talking about the food, right? :) It was a wonderful experience, but it wasn’t cheap. I’d recommend this to anyone who’s in Koyasan that has enough money! (It's a once in a lifetime experience, but yes Fred it is expensive, even by Japan standards. That is why we only stayed one night! I would have stayed much longer if I could. Whether you're religious or not, Koyasan will not fail to move you... It is simply wonderful).
http://eng.shukubo.net - Official website of Koyasan Shukubo Association and Shukubo Temple Lodging Cooperative. Tonnes of great information on how to get there, what to visit, activities you can take part in, how to find your way around and where to stay.
https://en.visitwakayama.jp/destinations/koyasan/ - Official Wakayama Travel Guide