Food for the spirit

Have been offline for the past 3 days 2 nights as we have been up the mountains. It was a nearly 4.5 hour journey changing between trains/buses/cable cars to get to Mount Koya. It was a quiet change from the city life, and was a good way to experience the tranquil life of buddhism. The temple guest rooms themselves were sufficiently kitted out in modern conveniences with heaters, feet warmers under the dining table and tvs, to make one’s life comfortable in a zero degree climate. Guests were expected to attend the 6am 1 hour long prayer rituals every day. It was very cold sitting in their main prayer hall on one’s knees. Though we are allowed to sit cross legged, there were plenty of stiffness for the last few days… 🙂 In spite of the physical discomfort, it was lovely to listen to the monks’ echoing chants, more musical than monotonous, with a sombre resonant gong sounding from time to time. 7am breakfast was fairly sparse with a piece of tofu, pickled radish and white rice with soup, which resulted in excessive peckish-ness…we had to snack rather a lot during the day! Dinner was a more sumptuous meal with over 40 ingredients, and 3 trays of food filled with at least 3 or 4 little bowls, each meticulously laid out in the way that Japanese excel at. During the day we visited the Okunoin cemetery, filled with some 200,000 tombstones and very very old cedar trees. At nights, we read and laid about relaxing after a hot bath. I was much refreshed to come back to the secular world, though I have to say some others were weary from the 6am mornings… 🙂

Tombs in Okunoin

Little rocks/stones piled up like little shrines in front of tombs

Bodhisattvas – they are dressed with little aprons and beanies, very cute. Apparently dressed by mothers to help protect children.

Rengejo-in: The temple dwelling we stayed at with its beautiful manicured courtyard in the middle

Every room/corridor faces some kind of landsape

The outdoor stairs in between guest wings

Enroute to our rooms upstairs


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