Holiday – Japan: Koyo-San

Sunday 21 June

After 4 train trips, a cable car ride, and finally a bus ride we arrived at the monestery. We take our shoes off before entering and wear sandals. Our rooms all have walls with sliding doors and they’re paper thin.

A strict schedule is followed. First up was a meditation session but I skipped that. I’m pretty tired. Dinner was promptly served at the set time and although vegetarian, it was filling. There was plenty of food and it was delicious.
Dining room at the monestery
Shower time is during a certain window. I just took a bath in an onsen (hot spring) which was lovely. Catch is it’s communal for each gender. Nothing like getting to know your tour group members that little bit better. Should have had this at the start as an ice breaker! Lights follows at 10. Surprisingly they have Wi-Fi, it’s kind of like a hotel of sorts. An interesting experience so far.

Monday 22 June

A gong sounds shortly before the 6am wake up at the monestery which begins with a morning session.

You get to a certain room and remove your sandals before entering the dark room and sitting down on the floor. The monks go through some chanting ritual for the next 40 odd minutes with a few instruments sounded at appropriate times. Later, one of the monks explained the chanting.
Breakfast was served at 7am so we sat down on the floor in the dining room and ate the various dishes on offer. I particularly liked the miso soup. I also enjoyed the seaweed which you your rice bowl and then use to wrap around the rice for each mouthful. The tofu was good too but it’s a bit too sweet for my liking.
The monestery is peaceful and has lovely gardens.
At 8am we set off for a walk which finished some 3.5hrs later. We walked through the town area of Koyo-San before visiting Kukai ‘s Mausoleum. There’s heaps of graves, each done up in a grand manner, very different to a Western cemetery. The area is massive.
We finally finished and stopped close by for some eats. I had green tea soft serve which was yum.
Japan is littered with vending machines. The top two rows are blue indicating cold drinks, the bottom row of red indicates hot drinks. So a few people bought coffee in a can. Vending machines cover a range of items. For example, you can get ramen noodles!
We had a break before meeting for lunch. I had a delicious curry and rice with katsu pork dish. The curry is like gravy, a tad sweet, not intense like an Indian curry.

After that we went our separate ways. I visited the Koyo-San Reihokan Musuem which centered on Buddahism and Kukai who chose Koyo-San for the religious establishment of his learnings in China.
On my way back I must have caught some religious event as there were a bunch of monks headed my way. Time for a rest.

It was time for dinner and another delicious spread was made available.
Koyo-San monestery dinner for day 2
We also had the pleasure of meeting the mother of the head priest who is 95 and fluent in English. She told her story of growing up in Koyo-San, the world wars, where she learnt English and the opposition of people to her learning the enemy language, her translation roles for English years later, and life in Koyo-San. She’s supposed to be quite famous in Japan and looks far younger than 95.

Tuesday 22 June

The gong sounded just before 6am but I had a sleep in before having a delicious breakfast.
Gardens at the monastery
Koyo-San - Monastery Garden