Of the many places I visited during my sister’s week-long stay, Koyasan (Mount Koya in English) was undoubtedly the highlight. A world heritage site. located in Wakayama prefecture, Koyasan is primarily known as the world headquarters of the Koyasan Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism.
Koya was founded in 819 by the monk Kukai (one of Japan’s most important religious figures). After traveling the country for years looking for a suitable area to base his sect, Kukai finally chose Koya as an elderly man. Eventually over 120 temples were established and Koya became the start and end point of the famous Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage.
The pictures above come from the grounds surrounding “Okunoin” (the mausoleum of Kukai), which is surrounded by the largest, spookiest graveyard in Japan. Although every bit of the 3 km walk through temple was visually amazing, it was the incredible variety of faces carved into the stone tombstones that really got me.