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Japan tourism and Koyasan in Wakayama: Kukai, stunning scenery and Shingon Buddhism

Japan tourism and Koyasan in Wakayama: Kukai, stunning scenery and Shingon Buddhism

Olivier LeCourt and  Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Wakayama prefecture in Japan is blessed with stunning scenery throughout this adorable part of Japan. Equally important is the power of history, religion and culture in Wakayama because you have many national and regional treasures which beckon tourists and religious pilgrims alike to this lovely prefecture. In Koyasan you can feel the richness of Shingon Buddhism and the power of nature alongside stunning architecture. Therefore, it is easy to understand why Kukai picked this amazing place and it is nice to know that Koyasan is “a living Buddhism.”

Internationally, Kyoto is seen to be the cradle of high culture in Japan but actually this really belongs to Nara. After all, high culture was already flourishing before the power of Kyoto began because of the impact of Nara. Koyasan, just like Nara and Kyoto, is located in the Kansai region. Also, it is factual that Nara and Kyoto are much larger in terms of size and places to visit than Koyasan. However, the remoteness of Koyasan means that tourists and pilgrims flock to this stunning part of Wakayama. Given this reality, it is clear that Koyasan can’t be underestimated because of the power of Kukai and the richness of this exquisite part of Japan.

Zen Buddhism is internationally famous but in Koyasan it is the richness of Shingon Buddhism which thrives. It matters not if people are religious or not because when you visit Koyasan you can feel something special inside. This is because of the power of architecture, Buddhist temples, simplicity, “a living Buddhism” and the stunning views of nature which blesses Mount Koya in all directions.

The environment of Koyasan is extremely rich because of the layout and the abundance of temples to visit. Also, the main graveyard is extremely mysterious and many leading historical figures are buried in Koyasan. Another nice aspect is the environment whereby tradition alongside the yearning of normal tourists and religious pilgrims naturally flows.

Visual images of the Buddha mixed with the uniqueness of Shingon Buddhism is a real treat on the eye. This applies to the architecture and artistic aspects of everything that encompasses each amazing temple. Japanese gardens are equally famous and clearly the Buddhist concept of time and space can be felt deeply. The flow is so natural that lay people can feel the power and majesty of a faith which seeks a unique path along a complex road in this world.

In the world of monotheism the one God shows many sides and clearly you have various different sects. Likewise, in Buddhism you also have many different sects and in a sense religion is a mirror to what humanity is irrespective if good, mundane or where dark forces reign. Yet in Koyasan it appears that God’s Eden may exist because faith, philosophy, simplicity and nature come together.

In my earlier article by Modern Tokyo Times about beautiful Koyasan it was stated that “The non-religious may believe that God is an illusion and this may be so; however, in places like Koyasan you can feel “a magical atmosphere.” The “old world” survives within “modernity” but preserves its rich culture and maintains a rare spirituality.”

“Kukai (774-835) who became known as Kobo Daishi established the first monastery in the ninth century on mount Koya (Koya-san).  The Shingon sect had a different thought pattern within the many schools of Buddhism and Kukai believed that enlightenment could be attained in one lifetime.”

“Kukai was a searcher and he visited China and during his stay he studied Esoteric Buddhism.  Initially, he prayed for peace and prosperity because he could not find inner-peace within city life, therefore, he searched for a place where he could meditate and become even more spiritual.” 

“When Kukai saw the stunning nature of Koyasan it was clear to him that he had found the place which he desired.  The mountains meant that he was cut off from everyday city life in this period and the sublime beauty of nature added to the mysterious feel of Koyasan.”

The lovely aspect about Koyasan is that Shingon Buddhism in this amazing place is “a living Buddhism” whereby the rich traditions continue to flourish. Buddhists and non-Buddhists will adore this lovely part of Wakayama prefecture because Mount Koya is extremely beautiful. Therefore, the vibrancy of culture, architecture and religion all pull naturally together.

It is clear that when Kukai searched long and hard to find a special place to spread his teachings, that he made the right choice. The remoteness of Koyasan during his lifetime must have provided great insights into this world. Of course, according to legend Kukai is still wondering around Koyasan after being transformed into an eternal Samadhi whereby he is waiting for the next Buddha Maitreya to appear.

Therefore, if you are looking for a special break then Koyasan should come to the top of your must places to visit. Without a shadow of a doubt this mystical place is extremely charming and the cultural and religious angle completes a perfect break for people who appreciate the finer things in life.

http://www.shukubo.jp/eng /  (stunning Koyasan)

http://www.koyasan.org/          (Information about Koyasn)

http://www.visiblemantra.org/kukai.html  Kukai and information

http://ww2.coastal.edu/rgreen/  Kukai and information

 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Japan

 

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Japan tourism: glimpses of beautiful Japan in Kurobe and Wakayama (Part One)

Japan tourism: glimpses of beautiful Japan in Kurobe and Wakayama (Part One)

Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The mystery of Japan is best summed up by the stunning nature of this adorable nation which beckons tourists to “another world” where dreams and memories are made. The Shinto faith with its deep roots and unity with nature influenced the Buddhist faith which reached this nation and these fusions created “a huge well” for various Buddhist sects. Therefore, irrespective if a Shinto shrine is in the countryside or in the mega city of Tokyo, the backdrop always looks at one. This representation and reality is what makes Japan tick because irrespective if the theme is continuity or individual new ways, the old world and new world is still at peace.

In this article it is impossible to highlight all the places to visit because you have a plethora of tourist attractions throughout the entire nation. Also, each prefecture provides a unique angle and clearly all individuals will feel something special depending on individual interests and how the respective experience remains deep in the soul. Therefore, two special areas of Japan were selected in the first series about Japan tourism.

The two authors have different experiences for their special places which stay within the soul. For one author, the stunning nature and adorable Buddhist temples in Koyasan will always stay with this individual. Indeed, Koyasan and Wakayama prefecture will always stand out for one author because of the stunning nature of this prefecture and the richness of culture and religion.

If you view (http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/index.html)the website of Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau then you will notice the many amazing places to visit in the stunning prefecture of Wakayama. This especially applies to Koyasan where the Buddhist preacher Kukai made his home; the amazing temples of Negoro-ji and the surrounding area which is blessed with great places to visit: the unbelievable Kumano Kodo pilgrimage (Kumano is in the Kii Peninsula and not all of this region is within Wakayama) whereby you have so many stunning walks and rich cultural places to enlighten the individual; Shirahama and stunning beaches whereby you can forget everything; the magnificent Wakayama Castle which is rich in history and is blessed with exquisite grounds; Kumano Nachi Taisha and the beautiful waterfall and stunning Shinto shrine; and so many other amazing places to visit.

Alternatively, the other author adores Kurobe in Toyama prefecture because the scenery just “blew her mind away.” Toyama is equally blessed with stunning nature and approximately one million tourists visit the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.

The massive Kurobe Dam is also a very popular tourist destination and the panorama views are amazing. This equally applies to the Tateyama Mountain Range and North Alpine Area. Also, between June 26 and October 15 this period is very popular because individuals can witness the water discharge from the Kurobe Dam.

In a past article by Modern Tokyo Times about Kurobe it was stated that “Also, you can enjoy lovely boat trips on Kurobe Lake and walk around the lake and Kurobe Dam. In every direction you have stunning views and it is a real treat. The Kurobe Gorge is truly beautiful and thanks to the Kurobe Gorge Railway transportation system you can travel in style and get a birds-eye-view alongside ropeways and cable cars, which blend naturally into the magnificent scenery.

“Other stunning places to visit in this lovely prefecture apply to the Kurobe Valley; Gokayama Village which is a World Heritage site; the Unazuki-onsen which is a real gem and soothes the body and mind; the Zuiryu-ji Temple which is famous in Japan; the stunning Shogawa-kyo Valley region; and many other stunning places to visit.”

Indeed, the local government has done great work in preserving the exquisite nature of this beautiful prefecture. Also, the close proximity to Nagano is a huge pulling power because many individuals often visit both prefectures on a twin holiday. Therefore, Kurobe is an ideal tourist destination and between the middle of April and the end of May you have adorable “Snow Walls.” The changing seasons also creates a lovely dimension to the entire area.

The tourist options in Japan are unbelievable and it is well worth checking the many destinations to visit. Of course, cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, and others, hog the limelight but the beauty of Japan is that each prefecture provides countless places to visit and explore this stunning country.

Therefore, if you have never been to Japan then you will be amazed by the amazing beauty of this country. Also, for individuals who reside in Japan you have so many “hidden treasures” and fantastic places to visit.

 

 

http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/onsen/index.html Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau in English.  Also, you have information in other languagesand this applies to Japanese, French, Chinese, and Korean.

http://tb-kumano-news.blogspot.com/ Kumano News Blog

Other websites about Wakayama

http://www.negoroji.org/

http://www.pref.wakayama.lg.jp/english/charm/01.html

http://www.nk-kumano.com/ (Nachi Katsuura)

http://www.shukubo.jp/eng/ (Koyasan)

http://www.kumano-experience.com/01/en/ (Kumano Experience)

http://www.sekaiisan-wakayama.jp/english/index.html (Wakayama)

http://www.nanki-shirahama.com/eng/index.html (Shirahama)

http://farstrider.net/Japan/Castles/Wakayamajo.htm (Wakayama Castle)

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2012/03/08/japan-tourism-and-amazing-wakayama-tanabe-city-kumano-tourist-bureau/  Past article about Wakayama

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/toyama/index.html

http://www.alpen-route.com/english/

http://www.kurotetu.co.jp/en/index.html

http://www.info-toyama.com/english/index.html

http://www.alpen-route.com/english/Highlight_theater/index.html

http://www.kurobe-dam.com/

http://www.alpen-route.com/english/map/index.html Alpine Route Map

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/destinations/

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Japan

 

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Japan tourism and amazing Wakayama: Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau

Japan tourism and amazing Wakayama: Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau

Walter Sebastian and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Wakayama Prefecture (http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/index.htmlis blessed with an extremely stunning landscape. On top of this is the rich cultural history of the region and the religious dimension is unbelievable. In truth, this part of Japan is not only rich in culture and history but the options available are amazing. This applies to the stunning castle in Wakayama, the legendary Koyasan where Kukai preached, the stunning beaches of Shirahama, beautiful temples of Negoro-ji and the surrounding area, the amazing Kumano Kodo pilgrimage, and so many other fabulous destinations.

The Kii Peninsula is where dreams are made and the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route ties people to the rich history of this amazing country. This article is focused on the Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau because their website is full of valuable information about this stunning region.

The Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau (http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/index.htmlis an amazing website because it is not only well presented, but the information available flows easily and this website clearly opens up this amazing tourist destination. You have ten main areas for information and this applies to Kumano Kodo, World Heritage, Onsen, Area Guide, What to do, Transport, Lodging, Dining, Itineraries, and Reservation System.

This easy layout means that individuals can find valuable information at the flick of a button and more important, the information provided is top notch and extremely helpful. If you click on the World Heritage section it is stated that “Located deep in the rugged mountains of the Kii-peninsula are three unique sacred sites: Kumano Sanzan, Koyasan and Yoshino & Omine. These sacred sites, and the spectacular pilgrimage routes that connect them, were included on UNESCO’s World Heritage list on July 7, 2004 and are known as the ‘Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes of the Kii Mountain Range’. This vast natural area with its formidable mountains, rugged coastline, gigantic old growth trees, abundance of waterfalls and scenic rivers, has been revered and worshiped since ancient times. Considered a sacred dwelling place of the gods, these sites became sanctuaries with Shinto Shrines.”

“The shrines gradually blended with the Buddhist traditions introduced from China and Korea, creating an original and mixed belief system. The religious fusion and cultural development was shaped by the lush natural environment surrounding the shrines. With a history that spans thousands of years, the spiritual traditions of the Kii peninsula form an outstanding and unique cultural landscape that blends nature and religion in a powerful sacredness.”

Links about the above information are situated below this paragraph and each link highlights the stunning reality of each sacred place. Also, the presentation and details provided are fantastic and clearly the Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau cares deeply about the rich history and culture of this part of the Kii Peninsula. Therefore, please click on each link below and view the natural beauty of each place mentioned and read the rich history of this sacred part of Japan.

http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/world-heritage/index.html

http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/world-heritage/koyasan.html

http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/world-heritage/yoshino-omine.html

http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/world-heritage/pilgrimage_routes.html

Another amazing fact about a tourist holiday to this part of Japan is that Wakayama Prefecture is in easy reach to Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Osaka, and the stunning island of Awaji. Therefore, the entire Kansai region is blessed with a rich and dynamic reality which fuses culture, religion, modernity, state of the art technology, and so much more. This in itself is very enticing because for individuals who plan to stay in Japan for several weeks then clearly the Kansai region is a perfect location because of the diversity which is available.

The http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/kumano-kodo/index.html#ohechi following link focuses on the many pilgrimage routes which highlight the importance of the entire region. Not only this, the fusion of Shintoism, Buddhism, esoteric Buddhism, and other thought patterns, shows how the indigenous culture was open to new ideas and that syncretism was a way of life. This in itself means that you have many stunning holy places, museums, and a wealth of culture which is awaiting new individuals to discover.

Also, this link http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/onsen/index.html highlights the refreshing reality of the Japanese onsen. Therefore, if you are a first time visitor to Japan then this is a great way to spoil yourself while being surrounded by beautiful nature.  Once more this area on the website provides all the information you need about this great way to relax and unburden all the stresses of this life. Like usual, the Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau provides all the appropriate information which is required and they also highlight many amazing places to visit and enjoy a traditional Japanese onsen.

Overall, the Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau is providing a crème de la crème website about this amazing part of Japan. Each link opens up more information and more stunning images. Irrespective if you are a first time visitor to Japan or you reside in this beautiful country, one thing is for sure, a visit to this part of the land of the rising sun will always stay with you.

Therefore, please check the Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau website and take your time over all the information which is provided.

http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/onsen/index.html Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau in English.  Also, you have information in other languages and this applies to Japanese, French, Chinese, and Korean.

http://tb-kumano-news.blogspot.com/ Kumano News Blog

Other websites about Wakayama

http://www.negoroji.org/

http://www.pref.wakayama.lg.jp/english/charm/01.html

http://www.nk-kumano.com/ (Nachi Katsuura)

http://www.shukubo.jp/eng/ (Koyasan)

http://www.kumano-experience.com/01/en/ (Kumano Experience)

http://www.sekaiisan-wakayama.jp/english/index.html (Wakayama)

http://www.nanki-shirahama.com/eng/index.html (Shirahama)

http://farstrider.net/Japan/Castles/Wakayamajo.htm (Wakayama Castle)

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Japan

 

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