These stairs lead from the main street to a small shrine in the forest behind the houses visible to the right.
Along the path to Okunoin there are many thousands of carvings and other pieces of religious art. This is a miniature bronze stupa.
Another family shrine in the forest of Koyasan.
One of many old stone images in the forest.
Along the path to Okunoin are many graceful statues. This one is of the bodhisattva of compassion Kannon (Kuan-yin in China). It looks almost as if it were a curving tree itself.
This is just one of hundreds of such massive entrance gates to a temple in the town of Koyasan.
One of many, many shrines in the forest near Okunoin dedicated to the ancestors of a private family.
Many such stalls in Koyasan sell evergreen fronds to people for embellishing their family altars at home where ancestors are revered. This one is in a spot very characteristic of Koyasan: the old stone wall behind and the line of toriis heading up a path to the left bespeak the charm of this old mountain town (founded in the early 9th century) with its limitless reminders of traditional religion.
This plaque describes the full shrine visible in cocrejpn0143.
This is the bridge marking the entrance to what is often called Japan's grandest -- both largest and most magnificent -- cemetery. A two kilometer (1.3 mile) stone path through an ancient cryptomeria forest leads to the tomb of Kukai (posthumously Kobo Daishi), founder of the Shingon school and the first to found a temple at Koyasan, in 817. Throughout the forest along both sides of the path, and often up and over small hills behind the trees, are thousands upon thousands of gravestones that have been built up around Kukai's tomb over the millenia.
The path from Ichinohashi to Okunoin winds through massive trees, like the one on the left, and is lit by stone lanterns.
The long path through the forest to Okunoin.
Some of the grave stones surrounding Okunoin seem to depict either actual people or at least their idealized forms as ordinary social beings. Here we see a mother with children.
The path to Okunoin is not always level. The shifting topography makes for a more pleasurable walk.