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High in the forested mountains of the Kii Peninsula, south of Osaka, lies the monastic complex of Mount Koya, the secluded home of the esoteric Shingon Buddhist sect.

Lodging in temples

Rock Garden, Kongobuji TempleRecently designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the village contains more than a hundred different temples, many of which offer lodging for pilgrims and visitors allowing you to join the monks in their daily routines, share their delicious vegetarian cuisine, and experience a very different aspect of Japanese society. Take a stroll at dusk along the winding, lantern-lit paths through the Okuno-in cemetery for a uniquely atmospheric experience. Other temples across Japan offer similar opportunities to stay and join in the monastic life notably at the beautiful mountainous Dewa Sanzen and Yamadera in northern Honshu.

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Audley Travel specialist Alice

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