Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Okunoin

Okunoin is one of the most beautiful and most haunting places I have visited. It is where Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism, is said to be in eternal meditation awaiting the arrival of the Future Buddha. Because he is such a powerful religious symbol in Japan, and because everyone wants to be nearby when the Future Buddha arrives, the mile-long walk to the mausoleum is through a massive cemetery containing over 200,000 tombstones and memorials. After crossing two bridges, we made our way to Todoro Hall, whose 10,000 lanterns are always kept lit, giving the temple in the forest an otherworldly glow.

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