Koya-san – and particularly, the Oku-in Cemetery – is one of the most charming, atmospheric and eerie places to visit in Japan. Its streets, lined with temple complexes and monasteries, are quiet (in early April, at least). The cemetery is vast, a maze of graves and stone torii, covered in moss, shadowed from the sun.
We chose to stay overnight at Rengejo-in, wanting to experience accommodation in a temple lodging with evening and morning meditation. The temple, apparently, is one of the few with English-speaking staff, including the abbot, which made the stay more rewarding as he explained the purpose of the meditation and carried out his sermon in English.
The accommodation was basic, as expected. Our room was separated from three others by sliding paper doors and it got very chilly at night. The food was vegan, but tasty. The temple grounds were attractive and the monks helpful.
What let this temple down was the number of people. We had, perhaps naively, expected there to be only a few other people staying – in fact, there were probably 50-60 other people staying, including a coach party of rowdy Japanese pensioners, which meant we were never able to experience the solitude (or, indeed, anywhere near the tranquillity) that we had come for.
- Also Known As:
- Rengejoin Temple Hotel Koya-Cho