I shall describe separately how lucky we were to find the most exquisite shukubo --Henjoko-in-- because that made our one night in this extraordinary place even more special. Koyasan is quiet and beautiful. You get there with a train from Osaka (Namba station, Nankai line) through a landscape that becomes increasingly more beautiful, with streams, tall hills, forests and trees in bloom. At Gokurakubashi you take a cable car [Note: no need to drag your bag or backpack over the very steep stairs, as we stupidly did! There is an elevator to the left of the cable car], then a bus, and you arrive to this beautiful little town, which looks a bit like a mountain resort that serves some magnificent temples and the huge Buddhist cemetery of Okuno-in. Okuno-in is full of old shrines and statues of ill-formed and ancient Buddhas with red bibs, covered by green moss and climbing up the hills amidst tall majestic cedar trees. It is a quiet and mysterious place. The most beautiful building, for me, was the Kongobu-ji temple, center of shingon buddhism. Its beauty is hard to put in words, from the monumental wood gates to the succession of rooms graced by trees, storks and flowers on golden backgrounds by the 18th century painter Tanyu Kano, to the large Zen garden, which is known for harboring many rocks. It was added in 1964 (hard to believe) but it is outside of time, one of the most perfect places I have seen. Both oldest and newest temples are grouped in Djengo Garan.
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