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Surrounded by mountains on three sides and with the Tama River running along the foot, Okunoin Temple sits in a tranquil location on Mt. Koya. Okunoin Temple serves as the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism and one of Japan's most revered religious figures. It is said Kobo Daishi is in eternal meditation as he awaits Miroku Nyorai, the Buddha of the Future, and provides salvation for those who ask while he waits. Okunoin is one of Japan's most sacred locations and is a popular pilgrimage spot for travelers.
There are two ways to approach Okunoin, the first uses the Ichinohashi Bridge at the start of Okunoin's cemetery (the largest cemetery in Japan). The second path is through the Okunoin mae bus stop and cuts through the mausoleum. Both approaches lead to the Gokusho Offering Hall. Visitors who reach the hall make offerings and throw water on the Mizumuke Jizo to pray for salvation for departed family members. From the Mizumuke Jizo, there's the Gobyobashi Bridge that separates the inner grounds from the rest of the temple. Photography, food, and drinks are all prohibited and it is advised to bow before crossing as a sign of respect to Kobo Daishi.
When guests cross the bridge, there are wooden markers on the left as a memorial to unborn children. A bit further lies the Miroku Stones in small cages. Guests of the temple should try to lift the stone from the lower platform to the upper platform with just one hand. It is believed those with a good soul will feel the stone to be lighter than those with bad souls. The temple's main hall (Torodo Hall) is built in front of Kobo Daishi's mausoleum and houses over 10,000 eternally lit lanterns donated by worshipers. Behind the hall is Kobo Daishi's Mausoleum where visitors come to pray and even chant sutras to Kobo Daishi.
As one of Japan's most important temples, Okunoin is a popular temple sitting on Mount Koya. Pay your respects to Kobo Daishi with Japan Deluxe Tours on a tailor-made custom Japan vacation to include a stay at a Japanese temple at Okunoin. You can also extend our fully-guided Japan tours to include a stay at Okunoin with our pre or post stay options!
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