The Information Centre - Koya San

April 30 cont...

On the way to Kobo Daishi's Mausoleum on Koyasan

Off one train onto the other train, off that train onto the cablecar, off the cablecar onto the bus...

Koyasan (or Mount Koya) immediately reminded me of Queenstown. Exquisite but ohsomanyshops.
I realised later that I had arrived at the start of Golden Week, a public holiday, which explained the swarm of buzzing Japanese tourists.

I couldn't read the map or any signs so I had no idea where Kobo Daishi was and had to go by instinct. I got off at the last stop and yet again stood rotating on the spot like a dog chasing its tail, hoping to get clues.

I saw a kind looking gentleman and asked if he spoke English. He said the magic words 'A Little'. I asked him if he knew where the Information Centre was.
Just then he got distracted and waved frantically to a woman across the road.
I said 'Ah - your wife?'.
He nodded and said 'She speaks good English' with the relief of someone who just had a near miss with having to give a speech to fill in for the person who didn't show up.

Hiroki San and Yasu San
I spent the rest of the day with them.
Hiroki San was Japanese but spent 16 years in Canada and both Yasu San and Hiroki San were born in Shikoku and were teachers in Osaka.
Hiroki San was so knowledgeable because she came to Koyasan often with her family as she was growing up and seemed proud to be able to give us a guided tour (it was Yasu San's first time to Koyasan also) and I'm not sure if I would have found Kobo Daishi's resting place if not for her.

Hiroki San led us to one of the Temple offices.

At every Temple, once they have done their rituals, the Henro goes to the office to get the official Temple stamps and insignia, which is done in calligraphy over the stamps.
As we were waiting, the jubilant man in front of us unrolled a scroll with a picture in the middle of it and numerous stamps all around it. Hiroki San translated that this man had just got his last stamp. I said Congratulations, not really being sure what for, then asked Hiroki San if this was the same pilgrimage as the one I was about to do.
She said, No, it was another one.

Hiroki San asked the Monk at the Office if he had books for the pilgrimage for sale. He gave me a blue one and signed the front of it with a short prayer for the book then put the first stamps and insignia on it.

The first stamp - Koyasan

I had an odd sensation, when I paid for it, of being an imposter. That I was deceiving Hiroki and Yasu San's because I had never completed anything in my life and the feeling that I was merely appearing to set off on the pilgrimage were both familiar and hard to dismiss.

At that stage I had expected to go back to Namba then on to Shikoku but Hiroki San convinced me it would be better to stay on Koyasan and go to Shikoku the next day. She said they would help me find accomodation. I was tired and knew I needed all the help I could get so thanked them profusely.

Tombs in the Korean section of the Koyasan graveyard...

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