(To start the visit to Kongobuji from the beginning, click here.)
After entering the main building of Kongobuji, visitors pass through the gold-doored ohiroma (sadly, no photos allowed) and along a hallway with wooden floors worn smooth by time and the passage of many feet.
Like many Japanese temples, Kongobuji features gardens in every outdoor space, no matter how small. This garden runs alongside the hallway in the previous photograph:
The temple’s indoor spaces are beautiful, and contain a wealth of history. Many treasures and artifacts are on display. Sadly, photos are not permitted inside, so our tour will have to jump forward to the far end of the building. There, we find the Banryutei Garden–Japan’s largest “dry landscape” garden.
The large stones are arranged to create the impression of a pair of dragons guarding the temple.
The stones for the garden were brought to Koya from Shikoku, Japan’s third major island (counting from north to south) and the birthplace of Kōbō Daishi, the priest who brought Shingon Buddhism to Japan from China during the 9th century.
After visiting the garden, visitors pass along a covered walkway to enjoy tea and sweets in the temple’s audience hall . . .
before continuing through the temple kitchen – with its massive, traditional stove.
If you visit Mount Kōya (and I hope you do!) I hope you also take the time to visit Kongobuji. The temple has visitors’ maps in English, and is accessible and understandable to visitors who don’t speak Japanese.
Have you been to Mount Koya? Did you stop at Kongobuji? And if you haven’t been, does it look like the kind of place you’d like to go?