A burial area in Japan is not only the widest in the country of Sakura. It said that a corpse buried there would come back to life. If a traveller goes to Japan, try to visit Mount Koya, Wakayama Prefecture south of Osaka. There is the widest cemetery in Japan called Okunoin.
Reporting from Landdisposition.com and various other sources, the two-kilometre vast cemetery has 200 thousand graves. According to legend, the person buried in here didn’t die. They are only spirits who are sleeping and waiting to rise again.
This legend starts from the story of Kukai or also known as Kobo Daishi, a monk from the Heian era (now called Kyoto). He is the founder of the Shingon School of Buddhism in Japan and also the temple on Mount Koya.
Kukai is a descendant of upper-class families who, when they were around 15 years old, decided to study Buddhism. At that time this religion was unknown in Japan. Emperor Kammu, who controlled Heian, even forbade the spread of the faith.
Kukai finally went to China to learn about Buddhism and became a student of the monk Huiguo. He began studying in early 805 and did not take long to be trusted to share his knowledge and wisdom.
In 806, Kukai returned to Japan and began to spread Buddhism with a more specific form called Shingonism. After getting permission from the royal court, he finally established a temple on Mount Koya which is now the Okunoin region.
As a religious figure, Kukai spent his life meditating. He also died while meditating. According to his request, when he died, he refused his body to be cremated, but he wanted to be buried on the eastern peak of Mount Koya.
After Kukai died, Shingon’s followers opened Kukai’s grave and were surprised because Kukai’s body was still intact, looking healthy, and his hair grew long. The event finally led to the legend that Kukai did not die, but in a state of eternal meditation to await the coming of the Buddha.
For centuries, the area around the Kukai tomb became a tomb for Shingon Buddhists and Kukai followers. They believe when the Buddha comes, they will also rise from the grave. Besides being a sacred place, this cemetery is also a tourist destination. Visitors can pray at the Jizo Bodhisattva to pray for people who have died there by spraying water on statues.
After passing through Jizo, visitors will arrive at the Gobyobashi Bridge, where they must bow before moving to the temple complex. When entering the area, visitors may not bring food, drinks, take photos and record videos.
The main parts of this burial complex are Batu Miroku and Todoro Hall. According to the belief there, Miroku Stone can show whether a person’s soul is good or bad. Visitors are invited to lift the stone with only one hand. If the stone feels light, it means the person is right at heart while if it feels heavy, it means the person is wrong at heart.
On the other hand, Todoro Hall is the main hall for praying at Okunoin. Inside were more than 10 thousand lanterns which were kept hereditary by monks in Koyasan. Outside the Todoro Hall, there is the Kukai tomb. Every day, the monk will bring food to the grave. Here, visitors are not allowed to approach and are only allowed to pray outside the tomb.
The Okunoin cemetery is closed every 5 pm every day. The visitors can also enter the graveyard at night by taking a tour with a guide.