Part IV: The Garan

At on time there were 1500 monastaries, now less than 120 remain.
Koya-san has had a very eventful history. Kobo Daishi founded the Shingon school of Esoteric Buddhism in 816 on this mountain. He was a very famous religious figure and scholar and invented the Japanese kana syllabary. He is believed to be simply resting in his tomb, meditating, and awaiting the arrival of the Buddha of the Future.

During the 11th century it became popular to leave hair or ashes close to Kobo Daishi's tomb to be one of the first in line when he awakens. There are now thousands of tombs around Okuno-in Temple.

In the 16th century, monks were slaughtered in large numbers as a demonstration of power by Oda Nobunaga and their lands were confiscated by the government. At that time their estates were their primary source of income.

The government eventually sanctioned the priests to charge fees for religious ceremonies and the keeping of cemeteries. The cost that Buddhist priests receive today for performing ceremonies is thought by many to be exorbitant.

Women were barred from entry to Koya-san until 1872.


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