IMPACT: Mountaintop Temple Retreat (1 night)

KOB 203-302
  • Visit the center of Shingon Buddhism and explore many of its main sites
  • Dine in a Buddhist Temple
  • Witness monks holding their daily prayers
  • Take a walking tour of Japan’s largest cemetery containing 200,000 tombstones of prominent monks, feudal lords, and more
Program Overview
Country: Japan
Depart: 01/26/2017 1230
Return: 01/27/2017 1500
Duration: Overnight
Difficulty: Moderate
Capacity: Min. 20/ Max. 38

IMPACT Opportunity

Program Fee
$421 (early booking: $386)

This is a Faculty-Led Program! Julia Sapin, Associate Professor of Art History in the Department of Art and Art History at Western Washington University, is serving as the Faculty Leader on this program. Julia’s research focuses on the visual culture of the Meiji period (1868-1912) in Japan with a special emphasis on representation of national, regional, and gender identities in textiles, painting, and department-store advertising. Her recent research has focused on the use of photography in Japanese department-store publicity magazines.

Mount Koya (Koyasan) is the center of Shingon Buddhism, an important Buddhist sect which was introduced to Japan in 805 by Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai), one of Japan’s most significant religious figures. A small, secluded temple town has developed around the sect’s headquarters that Kobo Daishi built on Koyasan’s wooded mountaintop. It is also the site of Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum and the start and end point of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage. Kobo Daishi began construction on the original Garan temple complex in 826 after wandering the country for years in search of a suitable place to center his religion. Since then, over one hundred temples have sprung up along the streets of Koyasan. The most important among them are Kongobuji, the head temple of Shingon Buddhism, and Okunoin, the site of Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum.  Koya-san and its surroundings are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Travel by bus to Koyasan (3 hours) with a local English speaking guide.  Upon arrival, your guide will take you for a walk around the main sites, giving you an insight into Buddhism and its influence on Japan since arriving from India in the Sixth Century. Tonight you will be staying at a shukubo, a Buddhist temple lodging. Dinner tonight is shojin ryori, traditional vegetarian Buddhist cuisine.  You will also be able to participate in a zen meditation session with the monks.

January 25: Early today, you will wake to watch the monks holding their daily prayers (please note this is not meditation as the practice is different for Shingon Buddhism). You will then take a walking tour of Okunoin, Japan’s largest cemetery that holds the mausoleum of the founder of Shingon Buddhism, Kobo Daishi. The 2km walk to the mausoleum takes you past 200,000 tombstones, belonging to feudal lords, prominent monks, and well-known Japanese companies. Return to port (3 hrs).



Day 1

1230 Departure from Kobe Port Terminal by private coach to Mt. Koya
1500 Arrival, visit Mt. Koya’s main temples and sites
1800 Dinner and overnight at temple lodging

(please note times & accommodations are subject to change)

Day 2

0700 Wake up and attend the monks’ daily prayers before breakfast
0830 Okunoin walking tour
1100 Lunch
1200 Depart Mt. Koya
1500 Arrival Kobe Port Terminal

(please note times & accommodations are subject to change)

Meals Included

Dinner (Jan 24), Breakfast and Lunch (Jan 25)

Excludes lunch on Jan 24

Special Note

Mt. Koya is a mountain area, please pack warm clothing and insulating shoes

Please wear conservative clothing appropriate for this temple lodging.

Toilet and bathroom facilities at the temple lodging will be shared.

Single room accommodations are not available.