Can you imagine a city on a mountain? There are, for example gas station, school, house, temples, shrines. It does exist in Japan. The city name is Koyasan and it is known as a sacred place. Why? Because Koyasan is not only a city but also a big temple. The city of Koyasan was built by a guy called Kukai, who was the famous monk in Japanese history. There is a famous story about Kukai and this place, Koyasan. You will read that later.

When you go to Koyasan, you need to take a cable car. The cable car station name of Koyasan side is Koyasan, which is no wonder. What is the other side? That is Gokurakubashi, which literally means “a bridge to the Land of Yomi”. Yomi is where people go after they die. Personally, I was a little surprised when I found the word Gokuraku was used for the name. Maybe people in old times thought that going to Koyasan from the foot of the mountain looked like people go to the Land of Yomi.

Now, let’s learn something about Kukai here. Kukai lived during 8th century and studied in China for two years. When it was time to return to Japan, Kukai did not know where to build his temple. What he did was a surprising thing – he threw a Buddhist tool called sanko across the sea toward Japan. The tool fell on a pine tree on Koyasan. That is why he decided to build his temple here. Koyasan is also a mountain and the whole mountain is like a large temple. There are many temples built by not only Kukai but also his disciples. It is believed that Kukai is still meditating in Okunoin in Koyasan and helping us with everything.

Now I am going to tell you about what Okunoin is. Okunoin is a big cemetery place. Lots of graves are left and right. Over 1000-year-old cedar trees are located along the walking road, which is as long as 2 kilometers from the entrance to the hall. The hall is to deal with dead people like by burning or praying. The graves are from individual’s to company’s. You may even find a well-known company’s grave there. What is more, there are graves of famous shogun too. Shogun is person who was samurai and had a power to control the country. Famous shogun such as Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who lived during 16th century, Takeda Shingen, who was daimyo controlling a certain place, and so on were buried here in Okunoin. The grave shows their family name so you can give it a try to find their grave.

Toyotomi family grave is on your right

Apparently there are more than 200,000 graves here in Okunoin. But Okunoin is not dark and sad. The place is so quiet that you will be surprised by its grand, sacred atmosphere. Things like your worries, anger will be gone as long as you are in Okunoin.

Can you see something small like a person? We call it Jizo and in general it is used to pray for dead toddlers or kids in Okunoin. Jizo is like a guardian for them and protect them from demon.

3 Jizo on your left

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