Koyasan Temples- Danjo Garan and Kongobuji

Before anyone enters a Buddhist temple in Japan, you must first wash.  There is a system to cleansing your hands and mouth- left hand, then right hand, then drink from left, wash left hand again, and then dump the rest of the ladle on your right hand while holding it.  Got it, right?

IMG_6377 (2)

We tried really hard.  I mostly got it done correctly.

IMG_6382 (2)

The main temple in Koyasan, called Kongobuji,  is the administrative head temple of Koyasan Shingon Buddhism. Only the gate portion remains original due to fires but when they rebuilt the last time, on top of the roof are water buckets and chains to empty the water buckets onto the roof in the event of a fire-causing lightning strike.

IMG_6388 (2)

What a good idea! In the center of the courtyard is a long pole with a rope attached going inside.  The rope is connected to the Buddha altar. Some temples are not open so they will connect the rope so you can connect with Buddha even if you are not in front of the altar.

IMG_6390 (2)

Before you can go inside the temple you must first remove your shoes.  There are rules to this- your shoes should not ever touch in the inside floor and your socks or bare feet should not touch the outside.  I messed up that part a few times.

IMG_6393 (2)

Next, put your shoes in the giant shoe room and remember where you put them!

IMG_6436 (2)

Kongobuji temple is open air- like most in this area- so I took some photos of the courtyard from inside.

IMG_6383 (2)

There will be monks around going about their business.

IMG_6398 (2)

Inside the temple we saw rooms with great wall paintings, wooden planked hallways that were very squeaky to alert of intruders, and the first rock garden I have ever seen.

IMG_6415 (2)

I must say that the rock garden in not my favorite.  There were a few different rock gardens in the temple but this one is the biggest in Japan and the best- if you can claim a winner. Boring.

This room has gold leaf walls and formerly had gold leaf floors and ceilings and was probably used for a former Emperor. Fancy!

IMG_6426 (2)

The mausoleum on the grounds is Bishop Shinzen,  the nephew of the founder of Koyasan, Kobo Daiashi.

IMG_6429 (2)

Interestingly, Shinto religion also shows up in this Buddhist temple.  Below is a Shinto shrine in the kitchen. Our guide noted that Buddhism and Shintoism coexists in Japan with both religions followed similarly and at the same time.

IMG_6434 (2)

We moved on to the other main temple complex in Koyasan called Danjo Garan. The main pagoda here is bright orange and awesome! Konpon Daito:


I must have taken 100 pictures of it, I loved the color and style so much.

IMG_6461 (2)

Okay one more:

IMG_8317 (2)

Inside Konpon Daito was the Cosmic Buddha surrounded by 4 other Buddhas. We were not allowed to take photos but it was pretty sweet on the inside.

IMG_8313 (2)

Around the grounds of the Danjo Garan complex were some neat features.

IMG_8324 (2)

And another Shinto shrine.  Coexisting religions- the rest of the world could learn something here!

IMG_6478 (2)

It was hot in the sun today and I needed a break after these two complexes.  Stay tuned for dinner at the Monastery, made by monks and eaten on the floor by me!



You may also like...

4 Responses

  1. We love visiting Japanese temples and this one is a beauty. What a great experience for you to explore this one. I’ve never seen a shoe room that big though. I’ve always adored the many features of these temples and especially seeing that bright red orange on toriis or pagodas. Beautiful photos! Looking forward to catching up on your other Japan posts.

  2. Lauren says:

    I had a similar experience (well I guess not really so similar) in Istanbul entering the mosques. It was the first time I really felt like I had no clue what I was doing. We put our shoes in the “big shoe room” and even though I was wearing a maxi dress, my ankles were apparently showing and I was told to tie a scarf around my legs. I love the idea of the Shinto Shrine and co-existing religions! Thanks for sharing! 😀 X Lauren

  3. I’m absolutely dying to go to Asia…I feel like the culture shock would be such a learning experience! As much as I love living in Ireland, life here isn’t THAT much different than the US. Sure, it definitely has it’s differences, but in the end, Eastern culture is a whole other ballpark. This seems like such a cool experience!

  4. I never knew about the washing before entering a temple. We went to several Buddhist temples while we were in Thailand recently but we just had to cover up and take off our shoes. That main pagoda is gorgeous. I would have taken so many pictures as well!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *