New Year's day and we started our journey back to Tsukuba. Our main aim of today was to visit Koya San. This has been one of Japan's holiest mountains since Kobo Daishi founded a temple here in the early part of the 9th century.
We travelled by car up a very twisty mountain road. At one point I had to strap Kingsley into my seat belt to stop him from flying off the dashboard.. for the 5th time.
It was extremely cold when we reached our destination and so we headed straight for the Garan and the Kongobu-ji which was a nice mixture of old and well weathered buildings to ones which were brightly coloured and looked quite overpowering against the snow. We then made our way to the Okunion which is a huge cemetery which is situated in a forest. Alongside the huge trees are stone stupas and jizo statues of all shapes and sizes, complete with bibs and woolly hats. And every so often a memorial to those who died in the war.
We followed to the path to the Hall of Lanterns where thousands of oil lamps are kept lit. 2 of them since the 11th century. Here I lit incence and just absorbed the atmosphere. It was very busy as apparently it brings you luck if you visit a shrine on New Year's day. We turned back to walk along the path through the cemetery and we came across a line of statues who were having water thrown at them. Their feet, their bodies were being - well, i suppose you could call it - annointed by the Japanese who would then stand and pray in front of them. Here we had a bit of a pit stop as they were handing out a rice drink, tasting of ginger and Sake or so Bob, to ward off the cold.
We then continued our journey home...