Images of Koyasan, Part 2

The town of Koyasan can be roughly divided into two main areas. To the east is the Okunoin, a large cemetery and temple complex where thousands of grave markers and memorials are located. Perhaps the most dominant style of memorial marker is the Gorinto (Five-tiered stupa). The shapes of the tiers represent the five elements, from the bottom up earth, water, fire, wind and space.

A set of 3 gorintos in the Okunoin, Koyasan, Japan.

A set of 3 gorintos in the Okunoin, Koyasan, Japan.

At the other end of the town is the Dai Garan where the main temple complex is located along with many other temples and monuments.

The centre of the main temple complex is the Konpon Daito or Great Pagoda. I sat painting a section of this temple in the chilly morning air, accompanied once more by the sounds of chanting coming from the Kondo or Main Hall.

Part of the dome of the Konpon Daito, Great Pagoda, Koyasan, Japan

Part of the dome of the Konpon Daito, Great Pagoda, Koyasan, Japan

This area of the town is also the home of other major buildings such as the Kongobugi Temple. The rooms of this temple are decorated, in a variety of styles, illustrating the life of Kobo Daishi (the founder of the Shingon sect). Not only were you not allowed to take photos, the signs also specifically forbade sketching. This is what I recall of one room in a series that illustrated the four seasons. This room depicted autumn; yellow and orange maple leaves fell down against a backdrop of gold leaf, a striking deep blue stream ran through the background (this is not included in my version).

Recollections of the 'Autumn' room in the Betsuden, Kongobuji Temple, Koyasan, Japan

Recollections of the ‘Autumn’ room in the Betsuden, Kongobuji Temple, Koyasan, Japan

We also visited the Mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu and Tokugawa Hidetada, the first and second Japanese Shoguns. From what I understand this mausoleum contains the ‘spirits’ rather than the physical remains of the shoguns. Here visitors have to content themselves with admiring the elaborate wooden carvings that grace the exteriors of the two small buildings. Views of the gold-painted interiors are restricted to glimpses in the official brochure. I enjoyed the late afternoon quiet and drew this view of the torii gate at the entrance to the mausoleums. The stamps are available at many tourist attractions, so I’ve incorporated them into my page.

Torii gate at the entrance to the Tokugawa Mausoleum, Koyasan, Japan

Torii gate at the entrance to the Tokugawa Mausoleum, Koyasan, Japan

 

Images of Koyasan, Part 1

Well I’m back from a great trip to Japan so I can now upload some of the sketches I made while I was there. For the most part I managed to keep to my challenge of drawing something everyday, whether in my diary/sketchbook or an e-drawing on my phablet. I’ll bring you the drawings in several chunks.

Today I’m starting with images from the mountain town of Koyasan. This town is a religious centre for the Buddhist Shingon sect.  The main form of accommodation in town is at hostels run by the various monastic temples. The main drawcard to this type of accommodation is the vegetarian cooking that is prepared for guests. Believe me when I say that this food is not a form of abstinence (well apart from not eating meat). Here is a sample of one evening meal, for one person.

Dinner for one at the Jimyoin monastery, Koyasan, Japan

Dinner for one at the Jimyoin monastery, Koyasan, Japan

Guests, whether Buddhists or not, are invited to attend morning prayers in the temple. Prayers are led by the head priest, who is supported by other ordained priests. It was half an hour of chanting in a darkened space, lit only by candles, a time of focus and being present.

I thought it was also a perfect opportunity to practice fixing an image in my mind. This drawing was made after I returned to my room for breakfast. The first morning I was seated directly behind the head priest. The priest is marking the prayers with the ringing of a bronze bowl.

The head priest at the the Jimyoin Monastery, Koyasan, Japan

The head priest at the the Jimyoin Monastery, Koyasan, Japan

Two days later I drew another part of the temple furniture, in this case a cabinet containing images of the Buddha.

A cabinet containing images of the Buddha, Jimyoin Monastery, Koyasan, Japan

A cabinet containing images of the Buddha,
Jimyoin Monastery, Koyasan, Japan