Gateway to the life of a Monk: Koya-san

Sunset

A single night at a Japanese temple in Koya-san; a brief glimpse into a life of contemplation.

A still town, silent aside from 6am chanting and 5 daily rings of the immense Daito bell. Secluded in the mountains & avoiding the distractions of everyday life since 816.

Koya-san temple

Bridge
Red bridge

Ice lake

Daito Bell

A legend: a sankosho buddhist ceremonial tool thrown from China towards Japan, lodged in a pine tree on Koya-san. Becoming the site for the Dai Garan temple complex.

Temple
Temple

temple

Temple

The gateway to this spiritual haven became the gateway to the calmest explosive sunset imaginable; silhouettes of endless mountains against a sky painted the orange of Monks’ robes.

Koya

Daimon Gate

Sunset
Sunset
Sunset

We stood in tranquil awe.

(Until the temperature dropped with the sun, and we couldn’t make it back to the temple without something warm from Family Mart.)

Sunset

Family Mart Japan

We were the only guests for the night. Vegetables that we couldn’t identify, dinner of Monks: Shojin Ryori (five flavors, five cooking methods, five colors) before retiring to our tatami room in Yukata robes for tea and Japnanese cartoons.

Henjokoin Temple

We rose with the sun for the morning ceremony, our footsteps echoing in the empty hall behind the silent steps of three Monks. They chanted, somehow holding a single solid note for 40 minutes, and we attempted to meditate between shivers – in response to the cold or the sound of their prayers.

Buddhist Temple
Henjokoin Temple
Henjokoin Temple
Henjokoin Temple

A man shovelled snow off the footpath as we waited at the bus stop. I read Oscar Wilde fairytale stories to the train station and beyond, while the memory of this hidden town began to seem like a fairytale of it’s own.

– T

// Henjokoin Temple Stay

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