Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range, Japan - 2018
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Stupas from the Okunoin cemetery at the Koya temple complex also known as Koyasan. It is said to be the largest cemetery of Japan.
First settled in 819 by the monk Kukai (better known as Kobo Daishi), Mt. Kōya is primarily known as the world headquarters of the Kōyasan Shingon sect of Japanese buddhism. Located on an 800 m high plain amid eight peaks of the mountain (which was the reason this location was selected, in that the terrain is supposed to resemble a lotus plant), the original monastery has grown into the town of Koya, featuring a university dedicated to religious studies and 120 sub-temples, many of which offer lodging to pilgrims.
According to the superstition of the Shingon Buddhist school, there are no dead in Okunoin, but only waiting spirits. As the story is told, one day Kukai (774-835), that is still supposed to be in meditation, will come out of it upon the arrival of Miroku, the Buddha of the future.
So all the souls in transit resting in the graves or of whom the hair or ashes had been placed by their loved ones in front of the Kukai Mausoleum, also rose up. Pending the advent of this apocalyptic prophecy, the number of graves in Okunoin continues to increase and already counts more than two hundred thousand and is the largest cemetery in the archipelago.