The worst part of travelling for us is now the long flights from Melbourne. After so many trips the excitement of the flight to wherever we are going has worn off. So after leaving Melbourne at 9:30 (a delay of 45 minutes) a nine hour flight to Hong Kong and then another three and a half to Osaka’s Kansai airport meant we were over it. However we followed that up with an hour in a limousine bus to reach Osaka railway station. Finally we were able to stretch our legs as we walked for about ten minutes to our hotel in Umeda, the Sunroute Hotel. Tired as we were it was a pleasure to be welcomed by the friendly reception staff. After checking in formalities were over we made our way up to our room, 522. The room and bed were indeed small but the bathroom was good and the hot shower very welcome before we crashed into bed for a wonderful sleep.
An excellent breakfast buffet kicked off day two. After checking out we walked down to the station. A quick visit to the helpful information centre provided us with two handy maps and a few clues as to how to head off to Koyasan. Thank goodness the ticket machines had an English option. After making our way to the platform it took us a while to work out where to line up ready to board a train and which train was going to take us to Shin-Mamiya station. Once there we took some time to find the correct ticket window for the Nankai trains as distinct from the JR ones but managed it in the end. We must have just missed a train as it was about a 45 minute wait which did give time to read our trip notes. Our 12:17 train was quite busy. Karen managed to get a seat straight away but it took a few stops before another became available for me. At Hashimoto the people in our carriage started to all move so we took the hint, just as the train staff came aboard our carriage to emphasise the need to move to one of the front three carriages. We chatted with a family group of Aussies as we headed up and into the mountains through beautiful green forests.
At Gokurakubashi we exited the train and with about fifty others made our way onto the cable car carriage. It soon headed up the track to Koyasan station. There the very helpful staff gave us a map of Koyasan and showed us where to catch the bus down to the main town. You pay when you reach your stop. Ours was stop five just near our accommodation at the Muryoko Temple.
We decided to leave our cases there which was fine by the head monk. He even gave us an information leaflet in English to help guide ourselves around. We walked back to the start of the town.
We stopped in a peaceful park and ate our lunch which we had fortuitously purchased back in Osaka. By then it was 15:00 so we walked back to our accommodation and checked in. A brief tour of the facilities preceded us being taken to our traditional room where we were served green tea as a welcome drink. After settling in we went back out to continue to explore the many sights of Koyasan. We passed one of the other temple complexes before coming to the World Heritage Danjo Garan area. We spent quite a while here looking around, reading the excellent information boards and taking lots of photos. Some of which I am including in this post.
A number of the buildings dated back to the 800s but some were recent 20th century reconstructions due to fires caused by lightning strikes over the years.
The main pagoda was a reconstruction dating back to 1937 and was the fifth built on the site since the late 800s.
After about an hour we headed up the road to the Daimon Gate at the western end of the town.
Even though it is reputed as a good spot for sunset photos sadly the clouds which had moved in made this a non event.
After walking back down to Muryoko Temple we met another Aussie, Colin. He is also here for two nights before going on the Kumano Kodo walk too. Our vegetarian Buddhist meal was beautifully presented but some of the pickled vegetables were not really to our liking. However there were enough things to fill us up. Another different experience, that’s for sure.
The young monk who had bought our dinner also came back and set up our futons and rice pillows and doonas for us in the inner part of our room.
Next we spent some time reading up more about what to see in Koyasan tomorrow before heading to the bathing area. Traditional Japanese bathing is somewhat different we had discovered from our reading and talking with friends who have been to Japan. For a start it is communal and males and females bath separately. After stripping off you take a preliminary soaping up and shower before you enter the bathing pool. Personally it was almost too hot but I did manage to soak until my fingers became wrinkly and perspiration poured down my forehead. I had the bath to myself for most of the time until one of the young monks came in. A bit strange bathing with someone you have never met! After drying off and changing into a yukata robe I returned to our room to find Karen already back. We typed and read for a while before retiring reasonably early as we will be attending the early morning meditation ritual at 6:00 tomorrow.