So after breakfast I returned to my room to pack and get checked out. I was sad to be leaving after such a short stay, but onto the big adventure for the day-Okunoin Cemetery. However, it didn’t take me long to get sidetracked on my way out the temple. As no sooner was I 20 feet from my room, than the tripod was out and I was shooting. The place was just too beautiful and every time I turned my head, I saw something new and interesting.
I spent the next hour shooting around the pond that I had been looking at as I ate. The closer I looked, the more I noticed like the giant spiders or new fish swimming in the pond. There were little details everywhere that just begged to be discovered.
The monk, who didn’t speak English, was doing his daily routine of cleaning and had made his way to where I was. He found a gecko that was clinging to an inside window of a door and summoned me over to show me. These geckos apparently only live indoors here and it seemed I was lucky to have been able to see one. I tried to photograph it, but it just didn’t seem to want to have its picture taken as it did it’s best to hide, eventually climbing away behind the wall. The monk then took me to a corner of the pond to show me the frogs that I had missed as they were completely camouflaged and making no noise.
I could have stayed for several days just photographing inside the temple itself and never exploring any other part of Koyasan. I still spent another half hour wandering around the grounds of the temple after checking out before finally going into the cemetery.
It was definitely cooler up on Koyasan, but I guess temperatures are all relevant. It was still hot and humid and it really didn’t feel that much cooler to me. Add to that, the mosquitoes in the cemetery and I knew an interesting time was before me. I had to wear long pants and long sleeves in the cemetery as the mosquitoes had decided I was a good target. It didn’t ruin my enjoyment at all though.
I could try to describe what I saw but that’s not as interesting as seeing what was there. Here is a small sampling.
So this is a very small part of what is inside this amazing place. I was hoping that it would rain while I was there as I think it would have made for some incredible images, especially rain in the very early morning hours. It didn’t, so perhaps save that for next time. Snow would be amazing as well…
The actual town itself is interesting in that the few restaurants and shops that are there, seem to be there only to support the tourism- there really isn’t much else there. I found a nice quiet restaurant and enjoyed a lunch of Zaru Soba before I had to head out of town. After lunch, as I was walking back to Shojoshin-in Temple to retrieve my suitcase, I got stopped by a small Japanese TV crew. They interviewed me about why I came to Koyasan, what I did and how I felt about my time there. It was a bit of an awkward interview as the woman who was supposed to be interviewing me didn’t speak English. So the person who I assumed was the producer asked the questions and I did my best to not look at him while I answered. I’ll never know how it turned out though I guess.
In the end, I think a week would have been the optimum amount of time to stay in Koyasan. I feel like I saw maybe two percent of what is there. As it turns out, my host father from my time as an exchange student has an uncle who is a monk in Koyasan. I didn’t find this out until it was too late, however, next time I return there maybe I will be able to meet him?
Onto Kyoto now, via Osaka…