Posted on 04 / 29 / 2014
My husband and I stayed at Ekoin for one night in April 2014 and it was a fantastic experience. Ekoin an amazing old monastery retrofitted with all modern amenities, including tvs in the rooms and wifi. The rooms are beautiful and have original hand-painted screens. The rooms have windows looking out into the beautiful forest of Koyasan or the interior garden of Ekoin. Just walking around the inside of the monastery was beautiful.
The monks were accommodating and we especially loved the night tour of Okunoin (the largest cemetery in Japan), which is just a few steps from the front gate of Ekoin. During the tour, monks taught us about Shingon Esoteric Buddhism and Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism.
The monastery has indoor baths (onsen) for men and women and they were very nice and the water was hot. It was great to soak after a day of travel!
Ekoin is on the main street in Koyasan and you can walk to any of the sights from it. It's also just a few steps from the bus stop for the bus to take you to the cable car to get down the mountain, so it's easy to get your luggage there.
Oh, and the food was fantastic! The monks cook and serve shōjin ryōri to you in your room. Shōjin ryōri is traditional vegetarian Buddhist cuisine based on the Dharmic concept of ahimsa (non-violence). It prohibits the use of meat, fish, onion, leek garlic, and other root vegetables in cooking and is focused around seasonal fruits and vegetables. The idea behind shōjin ryōri is that it will put you in the best frame of mind to understand Buddha’s teachings. Though it's they call it traditional vegetarian cuisine the monks told us it was actually vegan since no dairy products or eggs are used. Yay!
We were served dinner and breakfast in our room and the food was great. It's a bit different for a Western palate but it's an awesome experience and you get to try lots of interesting vegetables and flavor combinations.
I highly recommend Ekoin!
Great location, Great food, Beautiful rooms