12-June-2016 - First destination we headed was to Koyasan, a sacred mountain of Buddhism religion. I've booked a two night stay in a Buddhist temple there, and it was fully vegetarian, so I wanted to get that out of the way early in our trip. To get to Koyasan, we took the train from Wakayama via Nankai Koya rail line to Gokurakubashi station. It was about 1 hour ride, so we packed our lunch along the way and ate it in the train. At Gokurakubashi, we change to a ropeway to go up the mountain. You can actually see deers around the mountain. Above photo is actually inside the ropeway on our way down. Once we reached Koyasan station, we changed to a bus to get to our accommodation - Shojoshin-in Temple. Along the way, we saw lots of beautiful temples, and basically the whole town was just 2 roads: one horizontal across town, and one to the train station. Do note they don't allow you to walk between Koyasan Station to the nearest temple, so you have to spend some money on bus to get to and from the station.
The temple was easy to find, and it was very traditional. Toilets are shared, so is the bath. Our room has a balcony, and you can sit there drinking your tea while admiring the garden below. As this was a temple, there is no lock on the door. You put your faith that nobody comes in and murder you in your sleep! They do provide a safe for you to keep your valuables. But to be frank, I don't have much to steal from. All I need is my passport and my cash and I am good.
Temple rules apply when you stay here, that means 5:30pm dinner, 7am prayers, 7:30am breakfast. Bath time are also timed. They have a small wood bath below, and I was happy to hear that I can actually lock the door when I am inside, thus having a private bath without sharing with anyone. So on the first day I actually went down to the bath on the dot to be the first one in. I shouldn't have worried, nobody seems to be interested in the onsen. This could be due to most guest were non-asian, I dunno, but I had two relaxing bath there on both days.
The food, although vegetarian, was delicious. Believe it or not, it was the best meal I had in that trip! Everything taste subtle, with just a hint of flavour. They also provide us ample portion of rice, and I love Japanese rice, so i had 2 bowls of rice for breakfast, and 2 bowls of rice for dinner! I also ate everything laid out for me, and it was just the best meal! I wouldn't mind living in the temple if the food was a wonderful as it was here!
Just to share, the reason I pick this temple was merely due to price. It was one of the cheapest I could find (about SGD160 per person). It was also next to the graveyard, so maybe that kinda put people off. But not me! The graveyard, of Okuno-in 奥の院 was the highlight of the visit here! More on this on the next post! But here are so beautiful scenes from the temple for you to enjoy....
Corridors toward the dinning hall
Slippers leading to the garden