Wakayama: Okunoin

Located in Mt. Koya / Koyasan in Wakayama Prefecture, Okunoin (奥の院) is regarded as the most sacred site in Mt. Koya.

The Okunoin is also the location of the mausoleum of Kukai which would later be known as Kobo Daishi. He is believed to be in eternal meditation since March 21, 835. His mausoleum is regarded as one of the most sacred places in Japan. Because of this a lot of people wanted to be buried near Kobo Daishi once they die. To date, there are over 200,000 tombstones erected as memorials for people from all walks of life throughout Japanese history.
The Great Forest of Japanese Cedar
Despite being regarded as a holy site, Okunoin is also one of the most visited tourist sites in Wakayama Prefecture. Aside from the 200,000 tombstones of different designs, there are also other things or places to be seen like:
The Gobyo
Ichi-no-Hachi


Torodo
The Great Forest of Japanese Cedar
  1. Gobyo/ The Mausoleum of Kobo Daishi - This is the most important structure in the Okunoin. Every year hundreds of thousands of people make their pilgrimage to Koyasan to visit this sacred mausoleum. It is located 2 kilometers away from the main entrance.
  2. Ichi-no-hashi (The first bridge) - This is the main entrance to the Okunoin.
  3. The Great Forest of Japanese Cedar - Aside from the thousands of grave stones, there are also thousands of towering old cedar trees that gives the Okunoin a feel of serenity and antiquity.
  4. Torodo / Lantern Hall / Hall of Lamps - Constructed in 1023. It is a structure that is covered with thousands of lanterns that have been offerings and donations from individuals over time. There are four significant lanterns that have remained lit for a long time: Kishin-tou donated by priest Kishin, Shirakawa-tou donated by former emperor Shirakawa, Showa-tou donated by a prince and a prime minister during the Showa era, and Hinnyo-no Ittou offered by a poor woman named Oteru.
Other things of interest:
Rocket mausolem
Mausoleums of Matsudaira Hideyasu and his mother
Mausoleum of Oga Shonin
Mizumuko Jizo (Statues of Buddhist deities)
Miroku-ishi (Maitreya Stone)
Gyosei (Imperial Poetry)
Getting there:

Ride the Nankai Electric Railway from Namba Station in Osaka to Gokurakubashi Station at the base of the mountain. Then ride a cable car going up the mountain. You could also drive up the mountain, however take note that your tires should be able to run through slippery roads especially in winter season.

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