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Shukubo Kongo Sanmai-In in Koyasan

  • Minamoto no Yoritomo founded the feudal bakufu system and was eventually swept up in clan warfare and political intrigue. His leadership and bravery on the battlefield, as well as his political philosophy is remembered in great works of literature. When he died, his widow Hojo Masako had the Kongo-sanmai-in Temple built to pray for the mortal souls of her husband and their son. Now, the temple welcomes short-term lodgers from among the pilgrims and curious that visit Koyasan.

    Shukubo Kongo Sanmai-In in Koyasan

    Shukubo Kongo Sanmai-In in Koyasan

    The temple’s setting, ensconced in forest, is second to none. Upon arriving, one’s curiosity is drawn by the temple’s stupa. The stupa is a more somber and much smaller mirror of the mighty orange Koyasan Danjogaran. One of the oldest tahoto-style pagodas in the country, the subdued color shows the age of the original vermillion.

    Shukubo Kongo Sanmai-In in Koyasan

    Shukubo Kongo Sanmai-In in Koyasan

    More than fifty temples are registered with the Koyasan Shukubo Association to provide lodging (in Japanese, shukubo). The experience ranges from temple to temple but most offer a barebones traditional room, traditional Buddhist meals, and the chance to experience something of the life of a contemplative.

    Shukubo Kongo Sanmai-In in Koyasan

    Shukubo Kongo Sanmai-In in Koyasan

    Although a room at the temple may never be mistaken for a suite in the The Peninsula Tokyo, expect more comfort than an ascetic’s cell. One major difference, perhaps worth noting is the hotel’s communal baths. Television is a standard feature in all 70 guest rooms but be sure to request a room with a view of the garden. The gardens of the temple are one of the best features, especially the rhododendron garden and its centuries-old flowers.

    Shukubo Kongo Sanmai-In in Koyasan

    Shukubo Kongo Sanmai-In in Koyasan

    The standard plan with two vegetarian meals is 12000-13000 yen per person, depending on the size of room requested, with discounts for multiple guests and booking early. It is a good idea to book early, especially during summertime when the surrounding gardens are particularly breathtaking—but late autumn and early winter will certainly appeal to some: the sparse mountain scenery, taking the chill off the day with an astringent sip of strong tea…

    Shukubo Kongo Sanmai-In in Koyasan

    Shukubo Kongo Sanmai-In in Koyasan

    Although visitors will not be subject to the true pressures and privation of monastic life, a temple stay affords one the opportunity to learn something of the tradition and, hopefully, gain some merit in this life. Buddhist services are conducted in the main hall of the temple, and, when booking, guests can specify an interest in taking part in certain activities led by temple staff. The temple specializes in teaching the Buddhist Shingon sect’s meditation practice, known as ajikan. As well, the temple offers guests the chance to practice shakyo, the tracing of the sutras carried back to Japan by Kobo Daishi when he founded the Shingon path. In shakyo a slightly transparent sheet is placed over the original sutra and pilgrims trace the shape of the letters—a means of gaining merit.

    Shukubo Kongo Sanmai-In in Koyasan

    Shukubo Kongo Sanmai-In in Koyasan

    Speaking practically, the temple stay at Kongo Sanmai-in offers visitors and pilgrims a fairly inexpensive place to stay in proximity to the sacred sites of Koyasan. But the atmosphere should quickly win over even the most jaded guests. Koyasan and its temples have been welcoming pilgrims for more than a thousand years. Whether simply enjoying views of the gardens and taking in the ancient stupa, or taking part in meditation and sutra studies, lodging at Kongo Sanmai-in is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    Kongosanmain
    Address
    Wakayama Pref. Itogunkouyachou Kouyasan 425
    Phone
    0736563838
    Danjo Garan Temple
    Address
    Wakayama Pref. Itogunkouyachou Kouyasan 152
    Phone
    0736562011
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