As the mausoleum of Kobo Dashi, founder of Shingon Buddhism, Okunoin Temple is the most important site in the Mount Koya complex and one of the most important temples in Japan. Also known as Kukai, Kobo Dashi is said to rest in a state ‘eternal mediation’, awaiting the Mirokua Nyorai or ‘Future Buddha’.
The temple acts as the start and end point of the ‘Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage’ and can be approached from one of two directions. Ichinohashi Bridge is the traditional approach to the temple, a 2 kilometre forest path that leads pilgrims and visitors past more than 200,000 tombstones. The second approach starts from Okunoin-mae Bus Stop, less than a kilometre from the temple.
The Gobyobashi Bridge separates the inner sanctum – including the stunning ‘Hall of Lanterns’ – from the rest of the temple grounds. Please note that photography, food and drinks are forbidden from that point onward.