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  • 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 Rocket memorial
    Rocket memorial

    This is a corporate site.

  • Thumbnail for Path from Kongobuji to the Garan complex
  • 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 Eastern approach to Garan at Koyasan
    Eastern approach to Garan at Koyasan

    This is a view of the Great Pagoda in the background as one approaches along the path from Kongobuji.

  • Thumbnail for Memorial for Employees of Nissan Motor Company
    Memorial for Employees of Nissan Motor Company

    This gravesite is dedicated to the deceased employees of Nissan Motor Company.

  • Thumbnail for The Daito in the center of the Garan
    The Daito in the center of the Garan

    Viewed from the south, this is the Great Stupa or Daito, with the Lecture Hall to the left.

  • Thumbnail for Temple gate
    Temple gate

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

  • Thumbnail for Two old temples within the Garan complex
  • Thumbnail for Kongobuji temple
  • Thumbnail for Imperial burial ground
    Imperial burial ground

    Between the Tamagawa and the mausoleum (on the left when facing the mausoleum) is this gated burial space reserved for members of Japan's Imperial family.

  • Thumbnail for Kobo Daishi's shrine
  • Thumbnail for View from portico of Garan building
    View from portico of Garan building

    This is the view from the portico of one of the old temple structures along the path toward the center of the Garan. In the distance is the large Lecture Hall, and to the left is the oldest standing structure, the Fudo Hall, which dates from the 12th century.

  • Thumbnail for Bridge in Okunoin
    Bridge in Okunoin

    One of the paths in Okunoin passes over a stream.

  • Thumbnail for Temple meal
    Temple meal

    Most of the larger temples in Koyasan provide lodging for visitors. Rates range from around $70 to $120 per person for a traditional tatami room with dinner and breakfast. While many of the temples will prepare a western-syle meal if requested, the traditional vegetarian temple fare can be a wonderful treat. A meal like this one at a restaurant would easily cost half the fare for a night's stay.

  • 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 Old and new in Okunoin
    Old and new in Okunoin

    The stump from an old cryptomeria tree, likely six hundred years or more in age when it was felled, provides the fertile ground for the growth of a small new sapling. A striking visual metaphor for life, death and renewal?

  • Thumbnail for Hall of lights
    Hall of lights

    This newer structure, adjacent to the mausoleum, houses thousands of lamps donated by faithful in memory of their loved ones. The hall surpasses in scale, but perhaps not in grace, the mound of statues to the right dedicated to the spirits of the unremembered.

  • 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 gate
    Temple gate

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

  • Thumbnail for Jizo statues in Okunoin
  • 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 Koyasan bell
    Koyasan bell

    The high roof covers a large bronze bell that is rung hourly. It can be heard throughout the entire town. When Kukai founded Koyasan in the early ninth century, he sought contributions to build a similar bell and argued that temple bells are a vital part of the community.

  • 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.