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  • Thumbnail for Sign along path to the Garan complex
    Sign along path to the Garan complex

    This long path leads from the Kongobuji temple to the Garan, which is a complex of buildings such as large pagodas and halls for worship. There are several signs like this one in Koyasan (often with their idiosyncratic English renderings) that show support for the town being recognized by UNESCO as a site on their World Heritage List. As of 2003 Japan has ten sites so recognized.

  • Thumbnail for Back side of the Saito, in the Garan
    Back side of the Saito, in the Garan

    Behind the Saito, or Western Stupa, is this lovely green lawn.

  • Thumbnail for Shrine to local Kami in Garan
    Shrine to local Kami in Garan

    This Shinto-style shrine stands in the heart of the Garan complex and reflects the importance of the traditions of worship dedicated to the "local" deity of the mountain. It appears that Kukai revered these "kami" deeply and this reverence continues via regular rituals today.

  • Thumbnail for Family and corporate gravesite
    Family and corporate gravesite

    This site appears to be dedicated to a family as well as to a corporation.

  • Thumbnail for Temple gate
    Temple gate

    This is one of the more imposing old gates on the main street in Koyasan.

  • Thumbnail for Kobo Daishi's shrine
  • Thumbnail for Memorial site for termites
    Memorial site for termites

    The black plaque on the large white stone says "Termites." In smaller letters below it says," .... in peace" (probably something like "rest in peace," but the verb is illegible). The pillar to the right says the site was dedicated by a company in Japan that eliminates termites.

  • Thumbnail for Mound of stone Buddha images
    Mound of stone Buddha images

    Not far from the mausoleum is this perhaps centuries old mound, about ten feet (3 meters) high. It is dedicated to the spirits of those who died without anyone to remember them.

  • Thumbnail for Engraved calligraphy
    Engraved calligraphy

    This stone along the Okunoin trail, which reads "great compassion," was created from the calligraphy of someone named Tejima, who may well have been a famous calligrapher.

  • Thumbnail for Kongobuji temple
  • Thumbnail for Corporate grave site with photos
    Corporate grave site with photos

    On what for many is the "return path" back from Okunoin, parallel to the main one and on which there are many newer grave sites, are a few like this one sponsored by a large company for its employees, whose pictures are placed within large memorial stones.

  • Thumbnail for Kobo Daishi's shrine
    Kobo Daishi's shrine

    This is a view of the space between the shrine on the left and the much larger mausoleum building on the right, under which eaves this photo was taken.

  • Thumbnail for Husband and wife images at gravesite
    Husband and wife images at gravesite

    This family site is the only one I have seen in Okunoin that displays a likeness of the deceased.

  • Thumbnail for Close-up of Jizo statues
    Close-up of Jizo statues

    These are the statues from cocrjepn0210.

  • Thumbnail for Family gravesite with statues
  • Thumbnail for Bridge in Okunoin
    Bridge in Okunoin

    One of the paths in Okunoin passes over a stream.

  • Thumbnail for Temple gate
    Temple gate

    One of the many temple gates on the main street in Koyasan.

  • Thumbnail for The Miedo Hall in the Garan
    The Miedo Hall in the Garan

    The Miedo, meaning "Hall of the Honorable Portrait," houses an ancient portrait of Kukai, Koyasan's ninth century founder, said to have been painted by his disciple.

  • Thumbnail for Temple meal
    Temple meal

    This meal includes, on the left tray: tofu made from sesame dressed in wasabi and soy sauce; tempura fried vegetables, noodles in broth and several kinds of pickle. On the right tray is: plate with tofu, pumpkin, lotus root and other vegetables; roasted eggplant basted with a light and a dark miso (fermented soy) paste; tiny mountain vegetables in a vinegar dressing with a dried plum; watermelon. The meal comes with plenty of rice and tea. Sake and beer are also available.

  • Thumbnail for Pilgrims in front of the Great Pagoda
    Pilgrims in front of the Great Pagoda

    The Great Pagoda (Daito) is the most striking structure within the Garan complex in the western central part of Koyasan. The pagoda stands over 150 feet tall (48.5 meters). These pilgrims, who travel as a group in their white garb and are accompanied by priests in black robes, pray before the entrance of the pagoda toward the huge Buddha images inside.

  • Thumbnail for Kongobuji Temple
    Kongobuji Temple

    This temple complex is the headquarters for the Koyasan Shingon denomination. The founder Kukai seems to have built a structure in this location back in the 9th century; the present buiding is only a few centuries old. Next door to the temple is a cluster of more modern looking buildings that houses the administrative center for the denomination, which has branch temples all throughout Japan.

  • Thumbnail for Temple with cars
    Temple with cars

    This is the front gate at one of the many temples in Koyasan. Centuries ago there may have been horsecarts or rickshaws inside the courtyard but today we see only cars.

  • Thumbnail for Mound of Buddhas
    Mound of Buddhas

    This is the same mound in other photos viewed here from a distance.

  • Thumbnail for Jizo statues in Okunoin
  • Thumbnail for View of temple roof