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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 171: Templed out on a miserable day in Koyasan!

JAPAN | Thursday, 24 April 2008 | Views [1838]

Temple, Koyasan

Temple, Koyasan

Thursday 24th April

I had a few more days left before I was due to go back to Tokyo, and Pete had recommended I go to the town of Koyasan, another place with UNESCO World Heritage status bestowed on it. I had to take a slower train to get there, so I set off at 09.30 in order to get there before lunch. I had packed a bag, intending to stay there overnight at one of the many temples that the town is famous for.

The day itself was a rotten one: cold and drizzly and it didn't show much potential for improvement. The day got worse when I couldn't find an ATM that worked (I didn't have any money to buy a train ticket with), wasting an hour of my time before getting on the train into town. Once I got to Namba station, I walked around in a daze, struggling to find the part of this huge station from where I was to get the train to Koyasan. I was becoming increasingly frustrated and the day showed no sign of getting any better. I eventually got on the train at 12.00, and was finally able to calm down for a bit.

Koyasan is located up a hill in the countryside and so requires passengers to take an old-fashioned cable car to get there. The countryside was very pleasant, a nice change from the urban sprawl of Osaka and Tokyo, and the experience would have been so much better if the weather had been dryer and warmer. When I finally arrived in Koyasan, it was cold and damp, and not a little dark, a perfect reflection of my mood.

I took a bus to one of the temples where you can get lodgings (of a room and two meals) but I was rather abruptly turned away by a monk who told me that I needed to have a reservation to stay in that particular temple. I hadn't received a brush-off like that at many of the places I had stayed during my trip, and was more than happy not to pay the $100 fee that they charged per night. That tipped me right over the edge, I had had enough, and decided there and then to return to Osaka later in the day.

I thought I might as well see some of the place seeing as I had put myself through such grief to get there. I took a stroll around yet another temple complex, and this particular one, in an old district of town, was very impressive, and it was especially atmospheric in the mist. At this stage, however, it was going to take something a whole lot more impressive to convince me to stay any longer; I had seen quite a few temples already and the thought of traipsing around some more really didn't appeal, despite the fact that I found them to be beautiful and calm places to spend time.

After a few hours walking around Koyasan, I made my way back to the cable car, glad to be on my way back to Osaka. I got to Osaka at about 19.00 and called Pete who was a bit surprised to hear from me, but understood why I had come back earlier than planned. Coming back ahead of schedule also meant that I would have a full day to potter about Osaka, before heading out to Kumi's parents house on Saturday.

Pete and I went for a couple of drinks in a quite convincing 'British pub' (i.e. lacking in atmosphere and smelling of deep-fried food), had a good chat about life in general, and I soon felt a lot better, happy to have made the decision to come back to Osaka that evening. Kumi came along after she finished work and we made a move back to the flat. The thought of staying in a temple really didn't hold any appeal, and I was looking forward to getting a decent rest in the comfort if my own room in Kumi's flat.


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