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Kongobuji Temple and the Willow Room

Posted By on Jun 20, 2014

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As a commemoration to his deceased mother, Toyotomi Hideyoshi constructed Kongobuji back in the late 1500s. Although it was originally used as a home, it was later merged with the neighboring temples where it became the head temple of Shingon Buddhism, which is headquartered in Koyasan.

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To enter the temple, visitors must first take off their shoes and pay a small admission fee. For those who are wondering if it is worth it to pay the fee and go inside, the answer is yes! There are many different rooms to explore with beautiful painted screen doors and decorations. Unfortunately photography is not allowed of the screens, but in other areas photography was permitted.

The first room you enter is the Ohiroma Room, which was used for many ceremonies both religious and not. The screen doors in this room featured cranes that were painted by the famous Kano Tanyu.

Next to the Ohiroma Room is the Plum Room, named after the paintings on its doors. The room after is arguably the most famous room in all of Kongobuji Temple, the Willow Room. Filled with tranquil winter scenery with willow trees, this room is where Toyotomi Hideyoshi committed seppuku, or ritual suicide, based on orders from his uncle after his defeat.

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The atmosphere of the room felt a little strange, but the screen doors were probably some of my favorites out of the whole temple.

As you exit the room a long corridor leads you to a more recently added wing of the temple complex. It is here that visitors are invited to enjoy some tea and cookies in a large tatami-filled hall. The adjacent building features rooms with sliding doors depicting seasonal flowers and the story of Kobo Daishi, his journey to China and his founding of Koyasan.

Behind the building is the Banryutei Rock Garden, the largest rock garden in Japan. Built in 1984 with large rocks from sent in from Shikoku, which is the birthplace of Kobo Daishi, they represent a pair of dragons emerging from a sea of clouds. Be sure to stop and enjoy the garden as it is one of the best in Japan.

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The last place that visitors will pass is extravagant Jodannoma Room, which was for visiting government officials and other highly ranked officers. Everything is covered in gold and intricate flowers are carved in the ceilings. The room may be a tad gaudy, but it is one you certainly want to see!

Address: 132 Koyasan, Koya, Ito District, Wakayama 648-0294, Japan

[posted by Beth]

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Beth Williams

Originally from Chicago, Beth got her first true taste of travel when she studied abroad in Japan during her final year of university. She ended up loving Asia so much, she found herself moving right back upon graduating and is currently teaching English full-time in Hong Kong. Armed with her camera and a passion for travel, she is currently on a mission to photograph the world-- proving that you can work the normal “9-5” and still find time to travel on her blog Besudesu Abroad.

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