Start the Japan Food Tour today by taking the 4-hour train into Mount Koya, an important region for Shingon Buddhism. Founded in the 8th century by the Buddhist saint Kobo Daishi, Mount Koya has been a centre for religious activities for over 1,200 years. Mount Koya, and its vicinity, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. The journey to MOUNT KOYA
is one of the highlights of the visit, with the final ascent being on a cable car, which offers one of the most scenic journeys in Japan, as it winds its way up to the mountains.
Upon arrival at Koya Station, meet your local guide and spend the afternoon exploring a couple of popular sites that give an insight to Japanese Buddhism. Visit Kongobuji Temple
, the head temple of Shingon Buddhism and home to Japan’s largest rock garden. On rare occasions, guests might witness a small group of worshippers led by a monk chanting some scripts in front of the temple.
, Japan’s largest cemetery that holds the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism and one of the most revered people in the religious history of Japan. The classic approach starts from Ichino Hashi Bridge and stretches up to 2km, filled with more than 200,000 tombstones that belong to feudal lords, prominent monks, and even well-known Japanese companies. Gokusho Offering Hall, Torodo Hall of Lanterns, and Kobo Daishi’s Mausoleum are located at the end of the trail.
Your unique accommodation tonight is in one of the hundreds of temples still operating here. You’ll live alongside Buddhist monks and follow their routine of evening meditation and morning prayers. Temple lodgings, known as shukubo, have facilities similar to Japanese ryokans. Rooms are equipped with thin futon mattresses that are spread on tatami mats for a comfortable night's sleep.
Tonight you’ll enjoy an introduction to shojin ryori, or Buddhist cuisine, lovingly prepared and presented by novice monks. Shojin ryori was popularised in Japan in the 13th century by Zen monks from China. Shojin ryori is vegetarian, and prohibits inclusion of meat and fish, following the teaching that it is wrong to kill living animals. Instead meals are prepared with seasonable vegetables and wild plants from the mountains.
Overnight at a temple in Mount Koya.