No women allowed: A Japan pilgrimage for the once forbidden sex

Koyasan, Japan (CNN)It’s tough to think of how the female pilgrims travelling the border of Koyasan, among Japan’s many holy websites, centuries ago should have felt while making their journey.

On the one hand, this “ladies pilgrims path” in Wakayama prefecture is a seven-kilometer stretch of amazing natural appeal.
      Thick, quiet forests, moss-covered rocks and dripping streams share area with historical shrines, collapsing divine beings and red torii gates.
      Occasionally, the largely forested path breaks devoid of its covered boundaries to expose open skies and the significant vistas of Japan’s mountainous Kii Peninsula.
      On the other hand, the path represents their prohibited status– a course created to enable female pilgrims a possibility to make offerings and feel the spiritual energy of the mountaintop temple complex without really going into due to Koyasan’s restriction on female visitors.
      Surely it should have stung simply a little to be so near to this holy website, intensified by the short lived looks of Koyasan’s spiritual architecture that appear to those strolling the path, yet still not able to get in.

      Unlike the path’s appeal, times have actually altered

      Fortunately, females are not personae non gratae there.
      Founded in 805 by a male called Kobo Daishi, among Japan’s most revered spiritual figures, Koyasan is the head office of Shingon Buddhism, a Chinese-influenced mystical sect.
      In 1872, the inbound Meiji federal government stated that Buddhist monks need to be totally free to take spouses and have kids. Around this time the restriction on female visitors ended.
      But that does not imply it’s unworthy backtracking the actions of the when prohibited pilgrims– despite whether you’re a male or female.


      In addition to early morning prayers, visitor activities consist of “sutra copying” (transcription of 262 words of Hanya Shinkyo bible) and meditation sessions.
      All temple meals are shojin ryori (vegan Buddhist food) though for those yearning a little bit of meat or sushi there are more varied offerings at Koyasan’s routine dining establishments.
      We had an opportunity to have a look at 4 various temples that are geared up to service foreign travelers, all which use comfy, tidy spaces, lovely gardens and polite personnel.
      These are: Henjoko-in Temple (35 visitor spaces), Shojoshin-in Temple (30 visitor spaces), Rengejo-in Temple (48 visitor spaces) and Fudou-in Temple (22 visitor spaces).
      All of these can all be scheduled on the main Koyasan site .

      Getting there

      The Nankai Electric Railway makes 4 round-trips a day by Limited Express and runs Express trains at about 30-minute periods in between Osaka Namba Station and Koyasan Station.
      The journey takes 100 minutes by Limited Express, and about 2 hours by Express.
      From Koyasan Station, visitors can get on a 10-minute bus to Koya town.

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