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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in Japan

Inside sacred Koyasan through the eyes of a monk

To better understand our way of life, watch a ceremony that has taken place daily for thousands of years …

By Nobuhiro Tamura
Guide in Koya-San

Towering ancient forest in sacred Koyo-San, Japan

On this half-day experience, we start at Okunoin, the centre of Koyasan’s religious traditions and the sacred mausoleum site of the great Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism. The entrance, through the cemetery, feels particularly atmospheric with around 200,000 stone pagodas and cedar trees reaching tens of metres in height. From here, we visit the innermost part of Okunoin, where I reside with my contemporaries and where we all performed a ritual to enter Buddhist priesthood.

To better understand our way of life, and if the timing is right, you can watch a ceremony that has taken place daily for thousands of years in which the monks offer lunch to Kobo Daishi; he is believed to still be alive today, having been meditating in the mausoleum for over 1,200 years. We not only guide you but also explain the doctrine and spirituality behind this significant ritual and others that have been practiced for hundreds of generations. Some people even find the disciplines underpinning our practices useful in their own daily lives.

Koyasan was closed to women until 1872. Before that female worshippers were only permitted on the surrounding mountain paths encircling the town. These ancient paths, called Nyonindo, are often referred to as the Women’s Pilgrim Route, and known for their gentle natural beauty. We accompany our guests on this crumbling and serene trail heading deep into the mountains, surrounded by trees and brought to life by the soothing chirping of birds. At the end of the walk, you can enjoy a bento box lunch in a picnic spot overlooking the Kii Mountain Range taking in the superb views of an undulating forest shrouded in history.

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Alfred & Nobuhiro Tamura

After travelling to Manchester to study English, Nobuhiro worked at a temple in Koyasan where he trained as a monk for over 10 years. Following this, he became an English-speaking guide touring visitors around his home in Mount Koya as well as historical landmarks in Kansai. His tours offer insight into the inner workings behind the temples that shape every sacred site.
Mr Nobuhiro Tamura, guide in Koya-San

Plan your holiday withAlfred&

Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Richard, who's travelled extensively in Japan. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - the tea devotee who'll introduce you to the ceremony surrounding Japan's national drink, the noodle guru who'll teach you how to make the perfect bowl of soba and the ryokan owner who'll tutor you in the relaxing art of the onsen.

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