Okuno-in Cemetery


Koyasan has one of the largest cemeteries in Japan, stretching a few kilometers from one end to the other and as such was one of the places they advised visiting. It was a very beautiful place and I wandered through several times during the day as it was en-route to the town.

When exploring the graveyard I came across an ancient looking mausoleum. As I reached the building, I could see stairs leading into its depths, which I started to creep down. I saw a door waiting for me at the bottom with a little sign above the handle that read “turn right and slide”. I gently twisted the handle to the right…but the door… it just wouldn’t slide. Confused, I decided to try and pull the door. And yes, I felt it move. Slowly, it began to creak open. I was stood there in shock, in wonder at what I was seeing as I couldn’t believe my eyes. What stood in front of me was beyond belief… Was that… a broom cupboard? Of course, the sign meant I should turn to face right and open the door next to me instead. When I went through the right door though, the mausoleum itself was actually quite large with a lot of space for urns that had largely been filled.

The guest house where I was staying also advised to visit during the night as well as it was a very different fell; It was the first time visiting a cemetery at night and it started off a little weird with a small shape of either a boy or very little man walking towards me which was a little disconcerting as a silhouette; as he got nearer, he looked more normal. I think a lot of people looked at me a little strange being out alone in there although there were quite a few people milling around all things considered.

After going to the top of the cemetery, I’d walked around to the town side and started to walk back to the hostel on the same route. There was another route on my map though and lights coming from down there although I couldn’t work how to get down; there were a couple of points where a crossing was marked on my map and I tried to get through although grave stones were blocking it off. After coming out of one of these darkened areas, a couple walked by – had they been 30 seconds earlier I think with me coming out the darkness they would have got a little shock!

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