The cemetery in Koyasan feels like entering a dream. It’s a massive Buddhist graveyard up on a sacred mountain in Japan.
There are around 500,000 graves!
Buddhist monks, warlords, important historic figures, are all buried there. Even some corporations have graves for their company such as Panasonic, Nissan, Kirin Beer. Apparently there’s even a grave for a mosquito spray company for all the mosquitoes it’s killed.
It’s easily the most beautiful and surreal graveyard ever visited.
During the daytime the sun casts its light through the gaps in the trees. It’s an eerie place.
Buddhist stone sculptures are everywhere, sometimes decorated in clothing.
Getting away from the main path you can find overgrown graves. An ancient area.
Buddhist monk strolls along the main walkway.
Going into the graveyard at night is a seriously spooky affair. If you stick to the main path there are thousands of stone lanterns lighting the way, but go up into the side paths and you will be surrounded by 1000’s of old graves, silent in the darkness of night.
Being alone in the dark away from everything is at once a very peaceful serene feeling, followed by imagination overload about ghosts. If you think the possibility of ghosts would come in the form of chilled out Buddhist monks, don’t forget feudal lords and warriors are also buried there.
The main temple area is about a 20 minute walk from the graveyard and has some impressive buildings. You can see Buddhists praying to the various deities that are worshipped there. There is a lot of belief.
Before entering the temple complexes you wash your hands with water.
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How To Visit Koyasan.
Koyasan can be visited as a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto. It took just over 1 and a half hours from Osaka. You can also sleep overnight in temple lodgings, but it’s not the cheapest option if travelling on a budget.
I left Osaka on a 9.30 train in the morning and reached Koyasan at around 11.30. Take the cheapest option which involves changing trains once, but the connecting train leaves within minutes so there’s no waiting around. The last train back is around 21.30.
If you want to stay late to see the graveyard at night then go to the temple area first (which is before the graveyard anyway upon entering (Koyasan) and spend a few hours wandering there then walk 20 minutes to the start of the graveyard. It’s a pleasant walk past temples and there are some small eateries to get some ramen and other stuff.
Spend a few hours during daylight to see the cemetery then grab a coffee or snack, a great place for that is Kami Coffee, a chilled out little coffeehouse near the beginning of the cemetery. Wait until 19.30 when it’s getting dark then stroll through the graveyard, and if your brave enough then walk of the main path. You can then take one of the last buses from nearby the entrance around 21.00 which will take you to the station for the last train back to Osaka or Kyoto. This way you will get an hour or so at night in the graveyard.