Namba streets and Koya-san in the rain

I’ve had a bit of a break from blogging as it’s been “that” time of year, you know, spring, end of March beginning of April, when everything is happening!! Moving house, new job, family visits! So finally I’ve gotten round to writing this up! Phew!

So when my parents were here, we went to visit my best friend in Osaka. On the first night I enjoyed taking them to Namba and seeing their reaction! For those of you who have never been there, it’s one of the busiest areas in Osaka and is famous for a lot of big crazy signs and some really good places to eat! Now my friends husband actually comes from Osaka and so knows the place very well, and he showed us it’s other side! If you see Tsutaya and a large crab sign clicking it’s claws, you are almost in the right place! You have to look for a tiny tiny alleyway next to one of the restaurants, once you start walking down it, the noise of Namba fades away and you seem to be transported to another time. I felt like Chihiro from “Spirited Away”.

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A tiny back alley in Namba

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A hiddenshrine
A hidden shrine

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A moss covered Buddha statue
A moss covered Buddha statue

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The next day from Osaka we did a day trip to Koya-san in the rain!! Koya-san is a temple precinct in Wakayama-ken that is built on a table land at the top of a mountain! It’s a very spiritual place and well worth a visit if you are in the Osaka area.  Getting there is part of the fun, you catch the train from Namba Nankai station, and once the train leaves the city behind, it slows down winding through tunnels up the mountains, rivers and waterfalls can be seen down below. Once the train reaches Gokurakubashi (Heaven’s Bridge), you have to transfer to a vernacular that takes you up the very steep side of the mountain to the Koya-san bus terminal.

From here you can catch a bus to the end of the line Okuno-in, a large graveyard in a cedar forest, where many famous historical Japanese figures are buried. As you walk around the forest, there are some signs in English explaining more interesting graves and a some information about the people buried there.  One small wooden structure contains a heavy stone that is said to feel lighter to those without sin, we all tried to lift it and none of us could! Oh no! There is also a well, and apparently if you look at the water and don’t see your reflection you will die within 3 years, we were all too superstitious to try that one! It is a very interesting place though, and certainly has a very mystical feel about it that can’t really be described, you have to experience it!

Okuno-in
Okuno-in

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A gravestone depicting  Fugu (puffer fish), wonder how this person met there end?
A gravestone depicting Fugu (puffer fish), wonder how this person met there end?

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The whole town can be walked in around 20 minutes, and because my family are too impatient to wait for the bus we did that despite the pouring rain!! However when you book your tickets to Koya-san in Namba, ususally a full days bus pass for the Koya-san area is included in the cost of the ticket. Other interesting sights are the Tokugawa Mausoleum and the Garan complex that has a very large orange and white pagoda with some very large Buddha statues inside.

The journey to Koya-san from Namba station takes around 1 hour 30 minutes and you can book tickets at Namba Nankai station. Many of the temples in Koya-san provide lodgings and many people stay there overnight.

 

 

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