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高野山(金剛峰寺&他) Mt.Kouya (Kongoubu-ji & Other)

Continuing from the trip to Wakayama Castle on April 21st, this is still the same day. After some more time on the bus, at 3pm we arrived at our next destination, Mt.Kouya (Kouya-san). More specifically though, we are here to see the Kongoubu-ji (wiki) among other things of interest. Kouya-san in general is famous for many things. The only one of which I remember is that there is a special tofu in this area.

The pathway into the grounds of the Kongoubu-ji.

On this specific tour, we have a tour guide who can speak English. The first thing she taught us was how to wash your hands before entering any temple. You take a scoop of water, pour a bit over your left hand, then over your right hand, and then hold the scoop vertically so that the remaining water washes over the handle.

Upon walking into the grounds, you will notice a big building. On the roof, there seems to be two big buckets. Those buckets were used to collect rainwater that could then be used to put out a fire if there was one.

Looking to the right, you can see the other sections of the building and although you can’t really see it in the photo above, the official entrance is around there.

A few photos of things around the courtyard.

Inside, from this perspective, the courtyard is to the left as we walked through the front side.

We were lead into a big room where we sat down to be given some pamphlets, a cracker and a cup of tea. While I hate tea, I took a few sips for this special occasion.

Afterwards, we went outside to see a rock garden, apparently the largest in japan if I remembered correctly. The formations of the rocks were supposed to be a dragon.

This rock garden really was quite large. It is baffling to think that monks rake all of this on a regular basis.

Seeing that trees and other plants surround this rock garden, I wonder what do they do with the leaves and petals that gets into the rock garden.

This photo on the left is of a small garden while we were walking through other parts of the building. This reminds me that I didn’t much photos of the actual building or walkways, but instead took a photo of a pointless garden that we walked by. The building in the photo on the right is not a part of the Kongoubu-ji. I’m not sure whether they are related or not, but it does house a bell on the tower. I took this photo once we got outside of the Kongoubu-ji.

Next, we went through this pathway, whose exact name escapes me, but it has to do with snakes. While walking through it, I was worried whether actual snakes would pop up from the cracks between the rocks of the pathway.

Through the pathway, we arrive that at a big space with lots of big structures. I forgot about the significance of any of the structures.

Panning the camera to the left.

And left once more, focusing on this extremely old looking building.

Up the small flight of stairs, I believe that this building housed some Buddha statues.

Other things around this area includes a bell and a Torii in a small grove of trees.

Another massive building.

If you follow the pathway on the left side of the photo going up…

You will get to see another massive building.

Just about every building in this area had an old and weathered look to them.

As we walk out of this area, our sensei told us of this ring thingy on this tower that we can spin. A video of that is on the left.

By the time we got out, it was about 4:30pm, and this was supposed to be a weekend trip, so after a quick ride on the bus…

We arrived at this temple where we will be staying for the night. Upon walking in, you will notice two things.

One, there is this rock garden on the left.

And two, a massive amount of organized slippers ready to be destroyed by a fleet of college students.

A really nice pond on our way to our rooms. You can actually see some fish in the photo. I enjoyed sitting on the railings as I take in the atmosphere.

I really should have taken more photos, but it has been a long day and I just keep forgetting. This is one part of a really big room separated by many many sliding doors. In fact, just about every wall was a sliding door. Me and a friend took this corner because it was the farthest from where everyone else was partying at. With these thin doors, it is really easy to hear people talking. On the left side of the photo, you can see some stacked futon. On the bottom side, you can see some folded yukata in a tray. I did wear it for the occasion but I did not like how my legs were really breezy, so I wore it along with my pants.

It was free time until dinner, so I wandered about the place for a bit. I also spotted these old maps of the temple and Kouya-san itself. I took photos of these things and not of the temple itself…

Finally dinner time! Every gathers for our much anticipated meal.

Nice to see a variety of food. Now, which is the special tofu that I keep hearing about?

Being at a temple, everything was vegetarian. Not that anyone minded, since these were very delicious. My complaint though, you see all those empty spaces within each bowl? All the servings were tiny! There was no refills, with the exception of rice. Our entire class shared two pots of rice for anyone that wanted a refill. In addition to the small bowl that I started with, I had another 3 to 4 bowls. Meaning that I probably ate almost an entire pot. Those two pots were gone pretty fast.

Here, I snucked into the pubic bath area before it was officially open and snapped some photos before anyone else was inside. I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to keep photos with naked dudes in them. And I’m certain that those people wouldn’t want me to have photos of them either.

During the official open hours, me and my friend were the first to dive into bath. It was pretty awesome as we had the whole place to ourselves for a little while before some of our classmates joined us. Of course, there were some people that were reluctant to go into the public bath. They were missing out on some relaxing time!

For the last activity of the night, our sensei took us on a walk to a nearby cemetery, the largest one in Japan I believe. It sounds a lot scarier than it really was. We walked along a well-lit path and washed some statues that gives you good luck. After we got back, me and my friend pulled out the futon and went to sleep. I’m sure that the others stayed up for a while.

Chaos ensues at 8:50am as I struggle to get out of bed. Getting out of a warm futon is such a difficult thing to do. We quickly pack up and back on the bus we go for our next destination in Wakayama.

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