Koyasan, the sacred mountain

- through Henry Oudin

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Guided tour of the trails of Mount Koya, cradle of the True Word school, full of mystery and grace.

It is sometimes useful to deviate from the usual tourist destinations to get a better idea of ​​the spiritual traditions of a country. When you have the chance to go to Japan, Tokyo and Kyoto are obviously on the program of visits, as these two cities offer a summary of almost everything that the archipelago has to offer. However, there are spaces that allow us to dive into sacred universes, filled with mystery and grace, places almost out of time. One such site is Mount Koya, Koyasan in Japanese. We do not go to Koyasan by chance. For me, the discovery of this site is the story of a meeting with a monk, Reverend Fujita (French Foujita), who invited me to stay in his temple, the Daien-in, which also offers accommodation to pilgrims and tourists passing through.

Reverend Fujita is an absolutely remarkable man, always smiling despite very busy days, because apart from the temple he has to manage, he is also a top scholar. A specialist in Tibetan Buddhism, he teaches it at Koyasan University, located a stone's throw from the temple, and holds the position of scientific director there. It is in this capacity that he was responsible for receiving the Dalai Lama when he visited the site in 2014.

The treasures of the sacred mountain

When his schedule permits, Reverend Fujita enjoys nothing less than sharing the treasures of this sacred mountain with his visitors. Two of these treasures explain why thousands of people come each year to this high place of Japanese esoteric Buddhism: the first is what founds the teaching of the Shingon school (which is the Japanese equivalent of "mantra", otherwise says the "true word"), which teaches that all beings can achieve complete Buddhahood in this lifetime. This doctrine, revolutionary for the time, when the monk Kukai, the founder of the Koyasan monastic complex, introduced it to Japan at the beginning of the XNUMXth century, is probably still so today...

Going to Koyasan after dark is like entering an unexpected sacred universe.

The second is Oku-no-in, the part of the plateau occupied by the necropolis. Some visitors speak of it as "a poetic place, which breathes the centuries"! The path that crosses it is almost 2,5 km long, bordered on each side by a large number of funerary monuments: at least 300! Among them stands, like a white chrysalis, the monument dedicated to those who were enrolled in the naval air forces during the Second World War and in front of which the Reverend Fujita performs rituals for world peace every September. The appearance of these monuments dates back to the 000th century, when Kukai, the founder, entered a state of very deep meditation awaiting the coming of Maitreya, the Buddha of the future. From then on, moved by faith, tens of thousands of Japanese, powerful and humble alike, erected a funerary monument there, convinced that by doing so, when Maitreya would come into this world, Kukai being in his entourage, they would find themselves de facto in that of Maitreya as well. This faith, still alive today, has extended to companies: it is thus possible to see in the modern part of the necropolis mausoleums built by large groups such as Sony or Toyota for the attention of their founders and their employees ! Going there at nightfall is like stepping into a mysterious universe. The path is delimited by small lanterns. The light that emanates from it does not allow you to see beyond, thus creating a very special, even fantastic atmosphere... Konjaku monogatari ( Collection of stories that are now in the past, composed towards the end of the XNUMXth century) reports the experience of pilgrims, witnesses of ghostly apparitions… Nowadays, it is sometimes possible to meet practitioners there who devote themselves to their practices

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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