|Statues at the beginning of the trail|
The pilgrimage route leading to Koyasan is called the Choishi Michi, a 20 kilometer, 800 meter elevation hike marked by 180 pillars marking ever cho (cho = 108 meters). We started our hike around 10 am.
|1st Cho, 179 to go!|
|Another cho marker, I had already lost count|
|The trail runs into a golf course. Ha!|
|I guess he got cold too|
After 6 hours of hiking, we turned around the corner and were rewarded with the view of the Daimon, or main gate! The bad news was that our monastery was 2 kilometers away from the Daimon, so we had to pick up our stuff and keep hiking.
|Various temples at Koyasan|
We finally arrived to Eko-in, the monastery where we were going to spend the night. The bath was very simple but after 6 hours of hiking it felt so great. We changed into our yukata and got ready for dinner at the monastery.
Part of the experience of staying in a buddhist monastery is to eat shojin ryori, the vegetarian food that monks eat. I am in love with shojin ryori. It was very traditionally Japanese, with a lot of umami flavors and so pleasing to the eye as much as the palate. We also lugged up the mountain bottles of "nama sake"(unpasteurized fresh sake) from the brewery in Kobe, so it felt pretty good to open the bottles and toast.
|Soup, seaweed and oshinko (pickles)|
|Tofu with wasabi and seaweed|
|Udon noodles in the pot and yuba and vegetables|
|And the Nama Sake I lugged all the way up the mountain|
The next day, we woke up early to attend the morning Buddhist prayers and the fire ceremony. I really wish that we had more explanation about the prayers so we could understand what was going on. After the prayers, we had Japanese breakfast and left Koyasan via the cable car that connects the mountain to the train station below. Now I need to start planning my next hike.
|The fire ceremony|