Joining an Esoteric Buddhist Initiation on Holy Mount Koya

One of the most unique experiences you can have in Japan is to journey to Mount Koya to take part in an esoteric Buddhist ceremony granting entrance into a sacred mandala—a visual representation of enlightened mind. The event is open to the public and held twice a year at the picturesque Garan temple complex—the home of the Shingon school—which was founded in 826 by the great saint Kobo Daishi.

Garan temple complex on Mt Koya

Kobo Daishi traveled from Japan to the Tang Dynasty capital city of Xi’an in search of the esoteric Buddhist teachings which would become the foundation of the Shingon (“true word”) school of Japanese Buddhism. “Shingon” is equivalent to the Sanskrit term “mantra,” and in fact the Shingon school is one of the very few surviving lineages of Mantrayana or Vajrayana Buddhism in East Asia.

Taizokai (“Womb World”) mandala

The imagery

Keep reading this article on Siam and Beyond.

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