In November 2015 I embarked on a 15-day, extremely memorable trip to Japan. Here are 11 posts that depict my days there along with some meta-thoughts and the final album of my carefully selected photographs.
Koyasan in the morning
Waking up late, I’ve missed the morning prayers with the monks (shame!) and simply joined everyone at breakfast. I got ready quickly and went out to see the cemetery and temple, for the third time now.
Arriving at Koyasan
Kūkai, an 8th century Buddhist monk who founded an entire school of Buddhism, was also famous as a poet, artist and engineer. He had chosen Mount Koya as his mountain retreat from wordly affairs and later a center of his sect of Buddhism. It is said that he is still alive in his tomb in Mount Koya – meditating and waiting for the next Buddha. Only the heighest of monks are allowed to see him and they bring him food and clothes every day.
A small temple town has developped on Koyasan’s mountaintop, which is today the start and end point of an important Buddhist 88 temple pilgrimage and a secluded, beautiful place for visitors to experience. It is also one of the best places to get a taste of a monk’s lifestyle: eat vegeterian monk’s cuisine, attend morning prayers and stay overnight at a temple lodging (shukubu).
Still recovering from illness, I started this day in a hostel in Osaka and jumped on the first train back to Kyoto, where I’ve missed a few days of action. Noticing my fellow commuters, I felt obligated to snap a few photographs conveying their sense of style, with a pinch of social commentary.
Please put on some headphones:
Before Tokyo and even before Kyoto, there was Nara: the first permanent capital of Japan. At some point the capital was moved when the government felt seriously threatened by the city’s powerful buddhist monasteries’ influence and political ambitions. The temples remained, and they are some of the oldest and largest in all of Japan.
Ah, Kyoto, the thousand year capital, the city of two thousand temples. Speaking to my Israeli audience, Kyoto is to Tokyo what Jerusalem is to Tel Aviv. The latter is a bustling, 24-7, hyper-modern metropolis and a youth cultural center, the former is more elegant and spiritual, filled with the air of history and tradition. In Kyoto, one can wander amid exquisite gardens and tour serene Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines simply by walking the streets. Kimonos are a regular sight and in certain districts it is not uncommon to cross paths with a geisha or witness a monk procession.