KOYASAN – prayers and memorials
Monday am – the pre-dawn alarm goes off and wakes me from a wonderful sleep. Time to rise and shine and head downstairs to participate in the amazing morning prayer ritual of the monks.
As I enter the prayer hall I am surprised that there are so many people staying here. This is another ‘on the floor’ exercise and trying to get comfortable is hard work. Finally everyone is ready to start and this rather large man comes in at the last moment and decides to push around and sit right in front of me. OK – but being the obnoxious person he is – he has plonked his rather large behind right on my foot – I think he has broken it – just as well I do not yell out the usual profanities although a muffled shriek is emitted – he looks at me as if to say well, that’s a stupid place to put your foot and doesn’t even say sorry – moron. Karma will get you for sure.
The service begins and the monks are chanting and striking the drums – an incredible ritual as the flame gets higher and higher. This is a very relaxing time except that my foot is now throbbing beyond all imagination. When we are finished it is back to the room and get ready for breakfast, but before I head upstairs there is time to check out a few displays.
After breakfast it is time to check out so back upstairs to get our bags. We are leaving them here as we will be going on another journey to the cemetery by day.
As we step outside the day is misty and cool – very refreshing. Apparently there are a number of temples in Koyasan that have accommodation.
This is our temple below left and the other temple is further down the street near the bus stop.
As we walk along we can hear the chanting of the monks as they beat the drums and we can smell the incense and fires – brilliant. We get on board our little bus and head down the hill to yet another entrance to the Cemetery. From where the bus stops, I think that maybe we are at the main entrance. A light rain is beginning – but it is not a pain and anyway everything I have is waterproof.
Cemeteries are always great places to visit and it is interesting to see how different nationalities commemorate the lives of their loved ones now gone. I have absolutely no idea of what some of the memorials mean so I’ll just put in some photos and you can take it from there.
They say “There are no dead in Okunoin, but only waiting spirits.”
What an incredible place this is. The misty rain every now and again really adds to the atmosphere and even though there are a few people around it is very quiet. I have tried to google some of these photos but to no avail. Obviously the people who put up their photos on the web have no idea what they are either. Let’s proceed.
There are many memorials to corporate workers. Above centre is the Nissan memorial to heroic workers.
The most notable features along the stone paths are little statues with red woven hats and aprons. I have since discovered the following on the web –
They may appear quaint and cute, but they tell a sad story. These small, child-like statues represent the Jizo Bosatsu that protect the souls of children. It is very sad to imagine parents coming to Okunoin and presenting offerings to these little spirits in return for peaceful passage of their children to the afterlife.
Most of the offerings consist of small coins, candles, coffee cans, incense and sometimes food. To ensure the spirits are warm in the chilly nights, most are given simple woolen hats and bibs or aprons, but others can sport elaborate capes, make-up and lipstick.
One interesting monument is this space rocket. Maybe this person worked at a space agency or was a sci-fi fan or maybe they thought they were alien and could return to their home planet.
Anyway it is a most intriguing monument to choose.
There are so many interesting things to photograph but I do not want a repeat of last night where I got so caught up that I was left behind so I am keeping an eye out for other members of the group.
Every now and again there are little bridges over rippling creeks – isn’t the colour just incredible?
It is time to leave and I must admit that it is one of the few cemeteries that is both magical by day and by night.
Before we do however, there is one more place that just has to be photographed. Such a restful place for these ancestors – it even gives you a feeling of peace and tranquility when you enter and walk the pathways.
But now it is back to reality as we head to Kongobunji Temple, Kondo Hall and Konpon Daito Pagoda – –