On the way to Koyasan, a smaller village outside of Kyoto. It is nestled in the hills and home to over 150 temples. As well as hiking through the mountains and paying your respects to the various Shinto and Buddhist shrines, there is the opportunity to stay over night in one of the temples.
It is hard to describe but it was amazing and in every possible way an rather humbling and surprisingly enlightening experience. When you are in such a calm, respectful and religious space it’s hard not to be swept up in all of the beliefs and ways of living. Meditation, fire ceremonies, a late night cemetery walk and a delicious vegan meal was the perfect remedy to our daily city sight seeing routine.
Although it seems like that feeling of relief and escape, that absolute calm that monks seem to emanate and that vow one makes to themselves to be more polite, considerate and understanding of others once you leave a place such as Koyasan has a strong impression, it is never completely lasting. The city has a stronghold over me, and it’s way of life is inescapable but perhaps (and hopefully) some of that Shinto-Buddhist thinking rubbed off on me.