Temple sights in Kōya San
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Any Buddhist worth their salt in Japan has had their remains, or just a lock or two of hair, interred in this cemetery/temple complex to ensure pole position when Miroku Buddha comes to earth.
The best way to approach Oku-no-in is to walk or take the bus east to Ichi-no-hashi-mae bus stop. From here you cross the bridge, Ichi-no-hashi (一の橋), and enter the cemetery grounds along a winding, cobbled path lined by tall cedar trees and thousands of tombs. As the trees close in and the mist swirls, the atmosphere can be enchanting, especially as night falls.
At the northern end of the graveyard, you will find the Tōrō-dō (燈籠堂; Lantern Hall), which is the main building of…
This is the headquarters of the Shingon school and the residence of Kōya-san's abbot. The present structure dates from the 19th century and is definitely worth a visit.
The main hall's Ohiro-ma room has ornate screens painted by Kanō Tanyu in the 16th century. The rock garden is interesting for the sheer number of rocks used in its composition, giving the effect of a throng of petrified worshippers eagerly listening to a monk's sermon.
Admission includes tea and rice cakes served beside the stone garden.
In this temple complex of several halls and pagodas, the most important buildings are the Dai-tō (大塔; Great Pagoda) and Kondō (金堂; Main Hall). The Dai-tō, rebuilt in 1934 after a fire, is said to be the centre of the lotus-flower mandala formed by the eight mountains around Kōya-san. It's well worth entering the Dai-tō to see the Dainichi-nyōrai (Cosmic Buddha) and his four attendant Buddhas. It's been repainted recently and is an awesome sight. The nearby Sai-tō (西塔; Western Pagoda) was most recently rebuilt in 1834 and is more subdued.