View of five-layered pagoda from balcony of main hall.
Close-up of Kannon image in main hall.
This ema, signed by a man and a woman with different last names, says, "May the two of us get along well this year." Appended to the left is also a note saying, "Please also watch over littleTaro!!"
An old tree stump within the Ikuta Jinja is herein celebrated by having its own enclosed space. Wrapped around it is a "himorogi," which is a rope with stylized paper strips hanging from it that traditionally demarcates any sort of sacred space. Large old trees are frequently honored in this regard; the presence of the himorogi will prompt some Japanese visitors to place their hands together and bow briefly before such a tree. This particular tree, however, is unique because it survived the ravages of war. See the explanation accompanying the photo of the wooden plaque pictured in cocrejpn0087.
This ema reads, " School: I pray that I may easily get into school." From a young age, Japanese children take what are often very competitive tests to enter both public and private schools. In the month of May, petitioners will post such ema around exam time, whether they seek to enter a junior high, high school or college.
The space beside the pathway is often filled with a vast collection of devotional pieces likely placed by different people centuries apart. The scenery weaves a tale of religious sentiment right into the very fabric of the forest.
This short path leading to a small shrine within the Ikuta Jinja compound is lined by vermillion torii. Many Shinto shrines will have paths almost covered by torii in this manner. The torii are commonly erected on behalf of donors to the shrine.
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.
Unfortunately I do not have a photo of the plaque describing the reasons for placing this rope circle here!
The path from Ichinohashi to Okunoin winds through massive trees, like the one on the left, and is lit by stone lanterns.
Visible in the background is a small hill of Jizo statues, seen close up in photo 168.
The same Jizo as in cocrejpn0159.
This is a "mikujior&quo box, from which one draws a paper packet in which is written a fortune. The fortune is printed on a small piece of paper and, if it is auspicious, a visitor will usually fold it into a long, thin strip and then tie it around a small branch of a tree in the shrine compound. It is as if this act also ties a bond between one's future and the deity of the temple: one wishes that the kami will help fulfill your good fortune. If the fortune does not bode well, the visitor has the option of taking another mikuji (which usually costs less -- this box says, "first fortune 200 yen," a little under $2).
The petitioner asks specifically for success in his applications to six universities, the first two spelled out nearly in full and the last four in extreme shorthand (either for lack of space or as an indication of lessened importance), that is nonetheless recognizable for any one who lives in the greater Kansai (Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto) area. The ema includes the date and the petitioner's name and address.
The path to Okunoin is not always level. The shifting topography makes for a more pleasurable walk.
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.
Along the path to Okunoin there are many thousands of carvings and other pieces of religious art. This is a miniature bronze stupa.
Some of the grave markers in Koyasan are stone and some are in the traditional Shinto architectural style.
Each of the deities in this line of Buddhist images receives water from the ladles of numerous visitors. They also receive an occasional cap and bib.
This family site is the only one I have seen in Okunoin that displays a likeness of the deceased.
A small privately-run library advertises its wares in the window of the old brick structure it shares with the New Life Barber shop.