By Patricia Lightfoot

Here is the final instalment of a brief tour of Japan presented through the Japanese words I practised each day. After Kyoto, we went to Mount Koya or Koyasan, which is an area of religious significance, being the centre of Shingon Buddhism.  One attraction for visitors, apart from the town’s natural setting in the mountains, its history, its many temples and other religious buildings, is the opportunity to stay in a temple lodging, where you eat the same vegetarian food as the monks and you can attend morning prayers. We rose early each day with other visitors to sit and listen to three monks clad in dark-blue robes chant. It was interesting to have the opportunity to see this daily ritual. The lodgings were described in various communications as “spartan,” but seemed quite comfortable, though toilets and hot baths were communal.

Koyasan dinner
Dinner at Shojoshin-in temple

Day 13: Koyasan
Word of the day
Pasmo, which is the name of the incredibly useful pass that can be used on trains, subways and buses, all of which we used on our way from Kyoto to the mountain town of Koyasan, where we stayed in one of the many temples, the Shojoshin-in temple. Before a delicious vegetarian dinner, we walked at dusk through the cemetery that surrounds the Okunoin Temple below the massive cedars, with stone lanterns lighting our way.
Places visited: Shojoshin-in temple, Okunoin Temple

The cemetery beside Okunoin Temple

Day 14: Koyasan
Words of the day
Yakuta because of the cotton housecoats we were invited to wear at meals at the inn in Yumoto Onsen and at the temple in Koyasan, though it was made clear that we had to wear our own clothes when attending morning prayers at the temple. The thick cotton jacket that can be worn over the yakuta was particularly welcome, as the weather had become quite chilly.
Kasa or “umbrella,” because it rained all day. Sometimes the rain was relatively light and at other times it was very heavy. For the first time in my life, I hiked mountain peaks while holding an umbrella. These could be found outside any establishment, borrowed and returned at one’s final stop of the day.
Places visited: Mount Mani, Mount Yoryu, Mount Tengiku, Konpon Daito


Approach to the Konpon daito
Konpon daito
Konpon daito

Day 15: Osaka
Word of the day
Pachinko or slot machines in honour of the many pachinko palaces, restaurants, stores and the focus on gaudy commerce in Osaka. We were there on a Wednesday evening and the city was humming. What could it be like on a Saturday night? Before going to Japan, I had walked through Simons department store in Ottawa and had seen an “Osaka nights” line of clothing for teens. Now I understand the reference.
Places visited: Muji store at Grand Front, Shinsaibashi-suji shopping arcade

Band, Osaka
Just another Wednesday evening in Osaka

Day 16: Osaka
Word of the day
Sayonara, because it was time to leave. One last Japanese sight was a group of young people in dark blue business suits crossing the road near Osaka station.
Places visited: City Café at Grand Front, Nakanoshima rose garden

Previous stop: Kyoto

Photos: Patricia Lightfoot and Phillip Lightfoot