History of Mt. Koya
Koyasan is a center of Buddhist study and practice,located in the northeastern part of Wakayama Prefecture and is in Koya-Ryujin Quasi-National Park. It is surrounded by eight low peaks.
Koyasan was founded about twelve centuries ago by the great Buddhist monk KOBO DAISHI KUKAI as a center for Shingon Buddhist training.His wish was to establish a monastry deep in the mountains.He wanted it far from worldly distractions where Buddhist monks could practice and pray and welfare of the people.Emperor Saga granted him this land in 816.
The Head Temple of Esoteric Buddhism is Kongobuji Temple, which has a 1200-year-long history.More than 120 temples are scattered throughout the area, thus forming a great religious city. Koyasan was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a part of the "Sacred Site and Piligrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range, and the Cultural Landscapes that Surround Them"
For instance, the 25-meter-high Dai-mon Gate, Important Cultural Property, that has served as the main entrance to the temple ever since its founding day, or the temple structure complex, National Treasure, and the Danjo-garan complex.Koyazan-Reiho-kan Treasure House exhibits the tremendous cultural properties of Mt. Koya-san.
The Highlight of Koyasan
The name Garan is derived from Sanskrit,and means a quiet and secluded place where Buddhist monks may train.Initial construction of the Monastic complex at Koyasan began here in the early ninth century.The path leading to the Danjo Garan from the east is illuminated at night,and in autumn the maple leaves here are beautiful.
Konpon Daito(Great Pagoda) is planned by Kobo Daishi,as a center of his monastic camplex.Canstruction began in 816,and was nearly completed some seventy years later.The design is a three-dimensional expression of the mandalas of Shingon Buddhism.Images of the eight patriaechs of Shingon Buddhism are also painted in the corners of the structure.
Okunoin is a cemetery and sacred area that extends about 2km from the Ichinohashi bridge to Kobo Daishi's mausoleum.The path is lined on both sides by hundreds of centuries old towering cedar trees.Among the trees are over 200,000 gravestones and memorial pagodas for people ranging from important histrical figures to commoners.
Kongobuji is the administrative head temole of Koyasan Shingon Buddhism.Originally the entire area of Koyasan was known as Kongobuji, and there was no specific building by that name.The building now called Kongobuji was combined in 1869 from two existing temples.the temple contains beautiful screen painthings and Japan's largest rock garden,the Banryutei.
Syukubo Temple Lodge
Many Temple of Mt.Koya accept vistors as a Temple lodge.Originally these were simple lodgings for itinerant monks.The number of these lodgings expanded in the Edo period along with the increase in visits oby piligrims.
There are now 117 temples here of which 52 provide lodgings. The meal served is Shojin-ryori, special vegetarian food using only vegetables, cereals and seaweed and avoiding meat and fish.
Some of the temples offer chances to experience zazen, a kind of Zen Buddhist training.