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Experience Buddhism

At Koyasan, anyone can experience religious ceremonies, mediation, and sutra copying with their own eyes and bodies! Please take part in some of these experiences during your stay.

Buddhist Sutra Copying

The practice of copying out Buddhist scriptures (Sutras) has long been popular in East Asia. Sutra-copying is not a difficult practice. It is used both as a form of meditation and as a devotional act. Sutras are the authoritative sources of Buddhist teachings, and because of the great merit their teachings contain, the merit of copying them can be dedicated to many wholesome purposes. Japanese will often dedicate sutra-copying to the repose of a deceased loved one, or for attaining some prayer or wish. Carefully and slowly copying each of the Chinese characters of a sutra one by one will provide a relaxed and refreshed mental state.

The most popular sutra selected for copying is the Heart Sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom. An extremely short text of only 262 characters, it provides the essential teachings of Mahayana Buddhism. A simple translation is provided below, and it is hoped that through copying the Heart Sutra, you will appreciate its profound meaning and investigate it further.

Hannya Shingyo, the Heart Sutra, is praised as follows: “It teaches us about the wisdom of Shingon – the grand core of the wisest bodhisattva. The entire sutra fits on a single page, reaching a mere 14 lines. Despite its simplicity, it gets the main point and has deep meaning.”

Kobo Daishi Kukai wrote in his Secret Key to the Heart Sutra:

Reciting, upholding, explaining, and revering the Heart Sutra will relieve suffering and provide ease. Practice what it teaches and meditate on it, and you will attain enlightenment and the wisdom of the Buddha.

Through copying the Heart Sutra and coming into contact with its profound teachings, may you and all beings experience release from suffering and enjoy peace.

Ajikan Meditation

“Ajikan” is a meditation method of the Shingon sect that was originally used by monks to relax and train their minds. But recently, many visitors to Koyasan have asked about meditation methods in Koyasan, so the method normally performed by monks is now accessible to visitors as well.

In this method, you meditate while looking at the Sanskrit letter “A.” The lotus below the letter represents the physical heart, and also expresses knowledge.

Jukai Ceremony

Jukai is a formal and ancient Buddhist ceremony for taking refuge in the Buddha and receiving the Buddhist lay precepts. Anyone, regardless of religious beliefs or faith, may receive these precepts, which are guidelines to living a wholesome and virtuous life. You do not need to be a Buddhist to receive these precepts, and receiving them does not necessarily make you a Buddhist unless you wish it to be so. Traditionally, a person with the aspiration to follow the Buddhist path becomes a Buddhist layperson by taking refuge in Buddhism and receiving the precepts in a ceremony such as this.

It has been taught since ancient times that the merit of formally receiving the Buddhist precepts from a virtuous master is very great indeed, because the precepts are the most fundamental and core practice of a Buddhist. In his Last Will, Kobo Daishi Kukai (774-835), the founder of Shingon Buddhism in Japan, wrote:

所謂十善者身三語四意三也。摂末帰本一心為本。一心之性与仏無異。我心衆生心仏心三無差別。住此心即是修仏道。

Among the Ten Wholesome Precepts, three concern the body, four concern speech, and three mind. These ten are the branches, and the one-mind is the root. The essence of the one-mind is no different from the Buddha. My mind, the minds of all sentient beings, and the mind of the Buddha are three, but there is no difference among them. Abiding in this mind is called cultivating the path of the buddhas.

The precepts are given at Daishi Kyokai in the traditional way during an ancient ceremony conducted by a fully ordained Buddhist master. The original form of this ceremony goes back 2,500 years, to the time of the Buddha, and has been preserved in Japan for 1,200 years. It is an experience that anyone interested in Buddhist or Japanese culture will find moving and fascinating.

Night Tour

Currently, there are 3 groups that operate night tours in Koyasan.
For details, inquire using the links below.

Entire Koyasan Area
KCCN (Guided Tour)

Okuno-in Area
Night Tour (Japanese and English)

Garan Area
Garan Twilight Wanders

Forest Bathing (only in Japanese)

This is a program for restoring the natural energy of body and mind through the conscious use of all five senses, taking in the forest’s natural landscape through the views, smells, sounds, and sensations.

Koyasan was certified in 2007 as a “Forest Therapy Center”. You can easily take part in this therapeutic experience in the forests of Koyasan, with their blending of history and nature.

Please understand that the experience takes place in Japanese, so we limit participation to people who understand Japanese or who have a translator with them.


Koyasan Temple Forest Association

Address: 45-17 Koyasan Koya-cho, Ito-gun, Wakayama Prefecture
Phone: 0736-56-2828 External Link

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