The sacred mountain Koyasan is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. There are 117 temples and monasteries including the famous Kongobuji. Here I want to introduce Fukuchiin Monastery which attracts visitors with its historical aesthetic garden, nostalgic lodgings and natural hot spring. One of the time-transcending highlights of this monastery is the modern rock garden created by the notable Japanese landscape architect Mirei Shigemori. Stay at this historical place and enjoy the autumn colors of the sacred mountain Koyasan.
Experience atmospheric stay at a monastery in Fukuchiin
Many people associate staying at a monastery with something restricting, but Fukuchiin wishes to give guests pleasant memories of their visit to Koyasan and welcomes them with much hospitality, which also includes a natural hot spring and an open-air bath.
The cosy rooms are wide enough to accommodate large groups and have many nostalgic decorations such as historical room-dividers and meaningful kanji inscriptions. If you wish, they will bring chairs for you to cater to your individual travelling style. Everyone can freely participate in the morning religious activities and sutra copying – unique activities for guests of monasteries in Koyasan.
From your room you can see the rock garden created by the famous landscape architect Mirei Shigemori
There are three types of rooms at Fukuchiin Monastery, but the Japanese-style ones looking at the rock garden are particularly recommended for the opportunity to appreciate the aesthetical beauty of the garden.
It borrows the name of Aizen-Myoou, the Buddhist deity of love which is enshrined in Fukuchiin. This impressive yet simple rock garden was designed by the famous landscape architect Mirei Shigemori. At night time the rocks are illuminated beautifully and you can enjoy a different view, which is one of the highlights of staying at Fukuchiin Monastery.
From the cloister connecting the monastery and the lodgings you can see another rock garden
Take the cloister from the lodgings to the tea room and the hot springs and you will see another famous rock garden on your way. The hot spring here was discovered in the year that Koyasan was designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
It’s believed that Mirei Shigemori used the waterfall from the famous Chinese mountain Longmen as an inspiration for creating this garden. The modern design depicts a mountain and a pond, together with traditional elements found in Japanese style gardens. It’s said that the aim was to create an ever-lasting modern piece of art which would be appreciated and cherished by everyone.
Other interesting spots include a dry garden like the ones Shigemori created in his last years and ancient art from Nara period. Everything here is made to help you relax and fully enjoy your stay in Koyasan.
The autumn colors view relaxes your soul
One other great highlight of staying at this monastery is the ability to walk around the sacred mountain Koyasan before the crowds of tourists appear. The autumn colors begin to appear at different times in the different places, but the earliest spot is around the bridge leading to Okunoin where you can see truly wonderful colors. Usually there are many tourists around this place during the day, but if you stay overnight at the monastery you can come here early in the morning and enjoy the beautiful view undisturbed.
Autumn colors around the famous stone garden of the Koyasan’s main temple Kongobuji
The stone garden in Koyasan’s main temple Kongobuji, which is easily accessible on foot from Fukuchiin Monastery, was created in 1984 using 140 rocks from Shikoku and white sand from Kyoto.
If you come here early in the morning you can enjoy the rocky landscape, which is lit by the sun rays, and appreciate the harmony with the autumn colors on the surrounding trees. Staying overnight in the sacred mountain and walking amidst the autumn colors is a very special experience.
I also recommend the winter landscape in Koyasan when the first snow covers the rock gardens of Fukuchiin Monastery and creates a spiritual atmosphere. You can access the mountain easily by the cable car so it makes for a great trip in which you can relax your body and soul.
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