Sunday, 4 February 2018

Cira Crowell | Koyasan

Photo © Cira Crowell - All Rights Reserved
Koyasan is one of the most important Buddhist temple complexes in Japan. This monastic complex of 117 temples is dedicated to the study and practice of esoteric Buddhism. It's the center of Shingon Buddhism, an important Chinese-influenced Buddhist sect which was introduced to Japan in 805 by Kobo Daishi, one of Japan's most significant religious figures.

It is one of the best places to experience an overnight stay at a temple lodging pilgrims and visitors can experience a monk's lifestyle, eating vegetarian monk's cuisine and attending the morning prayers. Around fifty temples offer this service to both pilgrims and visitors.

The history of Kobo Daishi is interesting. In 816, after years of study in China, it is said he climbed the holy mountain of Mount Koya and created the first temple of the Shingon sect of Esoteric Buddhism among its eight peaks, said to resemble a lotus. He was regarded as a saint by the time he fell ill at the age of 62, when his followers believe he passed into a state of eternal meditation rather than death. Along with his body, the spirit of Kobo-Daishi, as he became known, is believed to reside at the end of a forest path in Koyasan.

Cira Crowell's Koya-San Procession is a monochromatic gallery of the monks and their rituals at this revered site. 

Her website's biography tells us that she is a third generation Leica photographer whose work includes fine art, adventure landscape, cultural studies, portraits and humanitarian documentary themes. She's a black and white photographer who started her career twenty-five years ago with her grandfather’s Leicaflex SL2 film camera and she still uses many of the same forty-year-old lenses on her Leica SL.

Don't miss her lovely work on her galleries of Nepal's Kumbu, Kathmandu, Kalachakra, Ladakh and Bhutan.

As a footnote: The New York Times has an article on the Koyasan experience.