In a peaceful wooded area of Wakayama Prefecture, south of Kyoto and Osaka, lies the ancient village of Koyasan or Mount Koya, known as the epicenter of the Shingon school of Buddhism. Shingon Buddhism was introduced in Japan in the early 9th century by Kobo Daishi, one of Japan's most significant religious figures. Kobo Daishi built a temple on the secluded mountaintop of Koyasun as a place where he could meditate. Since then over one hundred temples and monasteries have sprung up around the sect’s headquarters.
Koyasan is also the location of Japan’s largest cemetery, Okunoin, that stretches for over 2 kilometers and is home to more than 200,000 graves of mostly Buddhist monks. Kobo Daishi himself remains buried here, but as the belief goes, he is not dead — just in eternal meditation waiting for the resurrection of the Future Buddha. Wishing to be close to Kobo Daishi in death to receive salvation, many people, including prominent monks and feudal lords, have had their tombstones erected here over the centuries. According to the Shingon Buddhist school of thought, there are no dead in Okunoin, but only waiting spirits.
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