So after our jaunt in Kyoto, we went off to Koyasan to see a different side of Japan.
It was still very ancient.
And still very touristy.
And the food was still very good.
But this difference was that this was a place of meditation. In other words, monk land!
And Buddhist monks aren’t allowed to eat meat.
But it doesn’t mean that what they eat isn’t tasty. This is shojin ryori or as I like to call it, monk food.
From the top going clockwise you have silky tofu, tempura vegetables, soup, rice, pickles and beans.
And on the next plate seasonal fruits, fruits which have been dipped in sugar, pickled radish and stewed vegetables.
I would say this is the best vegetarian meal that I’ve ever eaten, giving it a quieteating score of 8/10. Although, to be fair, its not like I have that much experience with vegetarian food. Although I was initially worried that things would just taste very bland. But I was very very wrong! Who knew how good tofu could really taste. Now I just have to figure out how to get this when I move back to London… Unfortunately I will probably suffer from the Japan curse and everything will taste of ashes after I move back…
Now, you may be wondering where is Koyasan and what is there to see there?
Well, its a collection of monasteries for monks. Its a popular destination for tourist (mostly foreign) to stay the night at a temple, eat monk food and experience their morning prayers. Certainly an eye opener!
The tourist wing was quite new (and full of tourists) but the original parts (which I unfortunately forgot to photograph as I was hurrying to eat) retained the original character.
Just outside the monastery where we stayed was a huge graveyard.
The graveyard sits in front of the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, also known as Okunoin temple, who is the founder of Shingon Buddism.
There are over 200,000 tombstones here as followers are buried so that they will receive salvation in death. I guess the idea is that the closer you are to Kobo the safer things are. Which brings me onto another observation, it seems that Japanese people are very suspicious and believe in a lot of things to give them luck!
Unfortunately, no photos are allowed of Kobo’s mausoleum, so all I have are photos of the journey there and back.
Which included some interesting sights.
I think I am fast becoming something on an expert on Japanese cemeteries, given that my home in Tokyo overlooks one.
We even went to check out the cemetery at night. Good thing my Japanese is bad, so I couldn’t understand what the ghosts were saying.
There were also a smattering of other temples to see while we were there, but I would say that the cemetery outshone them all!