Finally, the first batch of photos of my trip to Japan. God, how I miss Japan. When I think back, it feels like a dream, something that didn't really happen. I'm only back for a week, but it already feels like such a long time ago.
I first arrived in Osaka. Osaka and me didn't go very well. Ok, maybe it was because of the garlic noodles (in a somewhat shady place, if something like that even exists in Japan) I ate that first night. I got sick right after. Nothing really bad though, just a little nauseous and without a lot of energy. So the first couple of days after that, I couldn't be in the same room with anything soba noodle related, which is a huge same, being in the country that makes the best soba noodles in the world and all… But after two days of wandering Osaka on a slow pace and avoiding really good food I felt better and I traveled to Mount Koyasan.
Mount Koya is the center of Shingon Buddhism, an important Buddhist sect which was introduced to Japan in 805 by Kobo Daishi, one of Japan's most significant religious figures. A small temple town has developed around the sect's headquarters that Kobo Daishi built on Koyasan's wooded mountain top. It is also the site of Kobo Daishi's mausoleum and the start and end point of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage.
Now let me tell you this: I have never in my life experienced such a sacred, peaceful and mysterious place like Mount Koya. I would recommend it to all of you. I spend the night at a temple lodging, which means sleeping in a traditional Japanese room with tatami floors and sliding doors (fusuma), eating vegetarian monks' cuisine (shojin ryori) and joining the morning prayers at 6:30 am. Life in the temple lodging was pretty strict; I had to arrive before 17:00 because dinner was served at 18:00. If you where late, you where not allowed in. And after dinner everyone slept at 21:30, since you know, we had to wake up early morning the next day to join the morning prayers.
My temple lodging was located right next to Okunoin's cemetery. Okunoin has over 200,000 tombstones lined up for almost two kilometer long to Kobo Daishi's mausoleum. Pretty impressive if you ask me. Walking along these tombstones and tallest of tallest trees has made a great impression on me. Truly one of the most sacred places in Japan.