Raina's Japan Travel Journal
by Raina, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2015/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Koyasan

Passageway to the Garan

After Miyajima yesterday, I headed for another important religious site, this time in Wakayama Prefecture. My destination was Mount Koya, center of Shingon Buddhism, and where the sect's founder, Kobo Daishi is believed to rest in eternal meditation. This year is the 1200th anniversary since Kobo Daishi was led to Koyasan and established the sect's headquarters there. The town of Koyasan lies about 1000 meters above sea level and autumn colors here can be seen earlier compared to cities like Osaka and Kyoto. Today, most of the fall colors at Koyasan were at their peak and should remain beautiful for a while more before the leaves start to fall.

Koyasan lies about 50 kilometers south of Osaka and takes about 1.5 hours from central Osaka to get to the town where the main temples are. The skies were overcast as I made my way towards the mountain and it drizzled on occasion while I was there. From Koyasan Station, I took the local bus to Okunoin, my first stop of the day. I was glad that most of the buses are timed to the cable car arrivals, which means there was almost no waiting time. It was unusually crowded once we entered the town and the bus driver had to call for a back-up bus as ours was almost overflowing with passengers.

View from the walkway between the cable car and train stations
The cable car goes up a pretty steep incline
There were many small pockets of autumn colors along the way to the town center
Colored leaves and the Manito Pagoda in the background
Ginkgo leaves and a solo maple

From the Okunoin-mae bus stop, I started my walk through the cemetary towards Okunoin Temple. There were some interesting gravestones as well as some that were very old. The overcast skies and slight fog lent a hand in adding an air of mystery and mysticism to the area. Most of the trees in the cemetary park were evergreens and there were few autumn colors to be seen, save for the area near Eirenden Hall. I also took the chance to visit Kobo Daishi's Mausoleum.

Heading into the cemetary
It wasn't difficult to spot all these colors in a grey-green cemetary
Everything in this picture is under super clear waters
Fallen leaf
Fall colors
Came across this stupa-like structure
These leaves reminded me of the pokemon Pikachu and Charmander
Just before the Gobyonohashi Bridge
A Matsuo Basho haiku engraved in stone

From the Okunoin area, I made my way towards Kongobunji Temple, the head temple of Shingon Buddhism. I entered the building and walked through the relatively large complex with its many rooms. There are explanations for almost every room, explaining the design of each room's fusuma. One of the rooms was where Toyotomi Hidetsugu commited ritual suicide, but there is no gory crime scene left to see and I'm sure the tatami mats have been changed at least once since then.

Tree just outside Kongobunji Temple
Entrance to Kongobunji Temple
Fallen leaves and visitors on a pilgrimage tour
This makes my head hurt a little
A little bit of red peeping out in the Banryutei Rock Garden

After that, I went to the Garan which is a stone's throw from Kongobunji Temple. There were more autumn colors to be seen at the Garan complex compared to the head temple and the Okunoin area. Another bright structure was the Chumon gate, which was rebuilt after 170 years, in celebrations of Mount Koya's 1200th anniversary as the center of Shingon Buddhism.

Red and yellow
Small grove littered with fallen leaves
Small lake beside the Garan, with the Chumon in the background
The Chumon gate as seen from the Kondo Hall
Old people tour group posing with the Konpon Daito Pagoda and the Koyasan mascot
Fallen leaves
Visitors heading to the Garan

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List of Posts:
2019/03/20 - Moominvalley Park opens near Tokyo
2018/12/31 - 2018 Travel Highlights
2018/10/25 - Business as usual at Tsukiji Outer Market
2018/08/19 - Hello Kitty Shinkansen
2018/05/16 - Cruising Tokyo's waterways
2018/04/17 - Wisteria blossoms in Ashikaga Flower Park
2018/01/18 - Shinanomachi, the Backcountry of Nagano

2017/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2017
2017/10/25 - The 45th Tokyo Motor Show
2017/10/11 - Dipping into the three onsen towns of Yamanaka, Yamashiro and Katayamazu
2017/07/24 - Remote Riches in Toyama
2017/07/03 - Spiritual Chichibu
2017/05/02 - Fuji Shibazakura Festival
2017/04/14 - Sneak Peek from Ginza Six
2017/03/21 - A bit of everything in Fukui
2017/03/13 - Nikko Toshogu Uncovered
2017/02/15 - Subculture in Ikebukuro
2017/02/07 - Travel to the Goto Islands
2017/02/06 - Nagasaki Lantern Festival

2016/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2016
2016/12/19 - Winter Illuminations in Tokyo
2016/10/24 - The way of old on the Kunisaki Peninsula
2016/10/11 - Following the Tadami Line in Oku Aizu
2016/08/27 - Fool's Dance at Koenji Awa Odori
2016/08/16 - The three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan
2016/06/20 - Train travel into the Ise-Shima region
2016/04/03 - Setouchi Triennale 2016
2016/03/08 - The hunt for Namahage on the Oga Peninsula
2016/03/02 - Sake Sangria
2016/02/20 - Tokyo Plum Blossom Report
2016/01/26 - Tour de Reinan: Obama, Oi and Takahama
2016/01/25 - Tour de Reinan: Tsuruga, Mihama and Wakasa

2015/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2015
2015/12/10 - 48 hours in Tokushima
2015/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Kankakei
2015/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2015/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/10 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Koyasan
2015/11/08 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2015/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Dazaifu
2015/10/28 - The 44th Tokyo Motor Show
2015/10/21 - Hirado, where East meets West
2015/10/20 - Kujukushima Islands and Winter Illumination at Huis Ten Bosch
2015/10/19 - Navigating the Christian sites in Nagasaki
2015/10/18 - Cosplay at Haco Stadium Tokyo
2015/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2015/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
2015/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2015/09/24 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2015/09/16 - Nakanojo Biennale 2015
2015/08/19 - Traditional culture and hot springs of the Aizu Region
2015/08/17 - Nature and Hot Springs at Naruko Onsen
2015/08/04 - Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale 2015
2015/04/30 - Sapporo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/29 - Hakodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/23 - Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/22 - Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/21 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/16 - Sendai Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/09 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/08 - Fukushima Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/06 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/02 - Nara Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/01 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/31 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/27 - Fukuoka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/26 - Kumamoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/25 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

2014/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2014
2014/12/15 - Seasonal Illumination: Sendai
2014/12/09 - Seasonal Illumination: Tokyo
2014/12/04 - Autumn Color Report: Kanazawa
2014/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka
2014/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2014/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2014/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/10/31 - Autumn Color Report: Karuizawa
2014/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Bandai
2014/10/20 - Autumn Color Report: Towada
2014/10/01 - Autumn Color Report: Oze National Park
2014/09/29 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2014/06/19 - Toranomon Hills opens in Tokyo
2014/04/24 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/23 - Morioka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/22 - Aizu-Wakamatsu Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/16 - Matsumoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/15 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/14 - Yoshino Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/13 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/12 - Kanazawa Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/10 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/06 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/05 - Hiroshima Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/04 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/02 - Nagoya Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/31 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/26 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/04 - Early Tokyo Blossom Report