Pilgrimage routes from ancient Japanese capitals like Nara and Kyoto lead visitors through a lush pathway of nature and architecture towards Kumano Kodo, a spiritual mecca of Japan. Kodo, meaning "old passageway", leads visitors past beautiful ancient shrines, flowing waterfalls, and lush landscapes in search of spiritual rejuvenation.
More info: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/wakayama/kumanohongu.html
A Buddhist Escape
Situated on a small hill at the top of Mount Koya in Wakayama is Danjo Garan, a sacred area featuring ancient temples, halls and pagodas that have served as Buddhist sanctuaries since the year 816. More than 100 temples, shrines, and religious statuaries are scattered throughout the area, all at the foot of Shingon-mikkyo, the head temple of Esoteric Buddhism. The 25-meter (82 ft.) Dai-Mon Gate has served as an inviting entrance to one of Japan's most sacred temples for over 1200 years, retaining its status as a significant cultural property of the Koyasan mountain region.
Pilgrimage routes from ancient Japanese capitals like Nara and Kyoto lead visitors through a lush pathway of nature and architecture towards this spiritual mecca of Japan. These sacred grounds were established under religious pursuit of Shintoism and Buddhism as ubiquitous streams, rivers, and flourishing landscapes serve as ideal foundations for the ritual worship of nature.
As part of UNESCO's World Heritage List with over 100 temples, visitors are privy to innumerable, highly diverse experiences at Koyasan. Perhaps the most enticing is the Esoteric Ordination Ceremony for the Establishment of Karmic Bonds with Buddha, which invites visitors to participate in a traditional Buddhist initiation. Once the visitor is adorned in ritualistic robes, a symbolic hand gesture is performed while reciting an incantatory phrase (called "shingon"). Once blindfolded, he or she is guided to a mandala after placing a lotus flower at the fingertips. Here, the ritual calls for a sprinkling of the water of Wisdom by a master, with the intention to achieve Light for those who contemplate the darkness of the world. It is said that the eyes of Buddha will endow nature in the minds that seek it, ending the ritual with a very positive, peaceful conclusion. Visitors are then invited to stay in one of various Shukubo, or temple lodgings, that offer overnight lodging for guests. Buddhist hospitality featuring unique traditional quarters, thriving gardens, and tea ceremonies embellish this one-of-a-kind vacation experience.
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