The Setting: Mount Kōya
There are few experiences that can humble you quite like a local homestay. Throughout my time in Japan I wanted to stay at as many local ryokans as possible and one experience that especially stood out was my time with Buddhist monks in Mount Kōya.
Mount Kōya is considered to be one of the most sacred locations in Japan and is a huge temple settlement, home to the headquarters of the Koyasan Shingon School.
The buddhist temple is one of many religious buildings offering homestays to guests in Wakayama but it was my preference due to their reputation as being one of the cleanest and with great meals. Moreover, they’ve recently had a refurbishment and although the accommodations are basic, they felt really clean and welcoming.
The price is 10,800 yen per person, which includes both breakfast and dinner. Although a little steeper than some other options in Wakayama, it is for the reasons outlined above.
Your stay at Jofukuin includes both breakfast and dinner, all of which are strictly vegetarian (no meat, no fish!) Both meals were really tasty with way too much food for dinner but before you know it you’ve sampled a little of everything and nearly eaten everything in front of you!
Around the prefecture of Wakayama there is much more to see and do, especially if time is on your side. I was pretty short on time so spent my day exploring Koya (where the lodge was located) and the many temples that occupy this settlement in the mountains.
Koya is the headquarters of the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism and as such has many religious buildings to explore.
My highlights were: Kongobuji, Danjō-garan and Konpon Daito.