Choishi-michi Hiking (町石道)

In front of Jison-in Temple, Kudoyama

Kobo Daishi did not die but instead achieved eternal meditation. That is a firm belief among people. Based on that belief, pilgrims and visitor have been drawn to this mountain to climb up Koyasan. In medieval times, so-called “Holy men” of Koyasan travelled throughout Japan to spread the words. They spread the custom to bury all or portion of deceased person’s bones here at Koyasan or to bury a sutra on the mountain. People wanted to be close to Kobo Daishi in death. That’s why so many have had their bones laid here to rest. That’s how Koyasan became the most inclusive graveyard in Japan crossing over all sectarian boundaries. A belief also arose that by making a pilgrimage to Koyasan, all the sins and misdeeds committed in this and past lives could be expiated. For such reasons, in the 11th century at the end of the Heian period, the retired emperor Shirakawa and then, the retired emperor Toba in the 12th century made pilgrimages to Koyasan. Many people, royalty and commoners alike have climbed Koyasan to pay the respect to Kobo Daishi. The pilgrimage path leads from Jison-in Temple at the foot of the mountain up to the Daimon gate. Along the way, there are 180 stone markers. The markers are small pagodas made of stone. Engraved on each of the markers is one of 180 Sanskrit characters. Each Sanskrit character symbolizes a deity from the womb mandala. Further up, evenly spaced along the way from Danjo Garan to Okuno-in, there are another 37 of these stone markers. Each of these markers also has a Sanskrit character representing the 37 deities portrayed in the center of the diamond world mandala. Climbing up Koyasan or making the pilgrimage to Okuno-in is seen as entering the world of the Buddha. In a sense, it’s equivalent to travelling into the two mandalas. It has become regarded as getting closer to the embrace of Kobo Daishi.

Stone marker along the Choishi michi
Observation deck viewing Kinokawa River
Thr 180th stone marker, the starting point of Choishimichi

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Moss on the Path

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