about 5 years ago

I miss the traditional Taiwanese breakfast of freshly made soy milk, baked cake, and meat buns.

I woke up naturally at 6AM today. The earliest thing that resembled breakfast around us were "coffee shops" that served sandwiches and coffee. Turns out we lived in an elderly neighborhood, or at least it appeared that way when we walked down the street at 7AM in the morning and everyone appeared to be twice as old as I am. The problem, then, was that no breakfast place was big enough to have separated non-smoking seats and lots of folks smoke. It didn't take the canary (aka my mom) to reject eating there, the places were so nicotine heavy that I think smokers could've gone there without bringing their own cigarettes.

Before we gave up on the breakfast hunt, we swung by the local supermarket to pick up fruit and snacks for lunch. This supermarket looked like a casino from the outside and inside, with neon lights and bright signs everywhere. I'm not sure why. It's just selling food.

After we realized breakfast out wasn't happening, we went home to find that the bnb actually provided bread, cereal, and milk. There was even a frying pan. When we return to the bnb in a week, I'm gonna just cook up my own breakfast omeletes which will be cheaper and damn hell better than any breakfast joint in the Nishinari ward of Osaka (I was going to say all of Osaka, but I'll be moderate).

It took two hours to drive from Osaka to 高野山 (Koyasan). My mom got better at driving today: less messing up the turn signals and have started to ask me if she can go 10 km/hr above speed limit without getting a ticket. A relevation on this drive was: tolls in Japan are freaking expensive! We paid two tolls in 1 hour that totalled 1150 Yen (~11.5 USD). Imagine paying that every day for work commute.

Also, on the way there, we saw this by the road. What the hell is this??? I hope it's not some anime inspired architecture, cuz then I'd be sad I didn't stop by to check it out.

There's really just two major sightseeing spots in Koyasan: 奥の院 (Oku no in) and 金剛峰寺 (Kongobuji)/壇上伽藍(Danjogalan). I didn't know what Okunoin was about until I went and saw tombstones.

Lots and lots and lots of tombstones. From the ancient famous:

To modern wartime victims and company employees (ex: Panasonic). It is somewhat amusing to see so many graves with up to 500 years of age difference all mixed up together in a beautiful ancient forest.

At the end of the graveyard walk is the main temple. It's an active temple with monks chanting, prayers praying, and people like me wondering about. The temple was decent looking but I did not find it to be interesting.

Compared to Okunoin, I found Kongobuji to have more architectural artistry to offer.

This definitely has some strong Japanese zen to it. Who else would put a bunch of stones on sand and call it a garden? :)

But what really excites me is the thought of food. Apparently, these three giant rice cookers used to produce up to 280 kg rice per batch --- enough to feed 2000 people!! (2000 me!!!)

Yeah, I was already looking forward to dinner in our temple guestroom. For lunch, I ate only mandarin and a boiled egg to build up the hunger.

Danjogalan consists of a series of religious architecture. Not all of them are about buddhas and again many of them are 1,000 years apart in age.

根本大塔 (Kobondaitou) is by far the newest and most modern looking structure of all. And naturally, my least favorite. It was too shiny for my taste.

I like things that are more antique looking. Like shrines made for worshipping ancient Japanese deities.

Afterwards, we returned to our temple. I chose 一乗院 (Ichijoin) because it had the best review on Rakuten for its service and food. And man, the price they make you pay is almost worth it.

First of all, the place itself is gorgeous. Not Kongobuji-level gorgeous, but livable gorgeous.

The exterior of the temple remains a temple, but the interior has been completely rennovated to resemble a luxury hotel. The monks (or staff? I'm not sure all of them are monks) are mostly young and speak decent English. The bath house...oh, I love the bath houses in Japan! You get this huge nice, steamy hot pool to soak in, which is so relaxing at the end of a 4 hour walking tour today. I guess this is the difference between Japan and US bed & bath services: you don't get your private bath, but then you can share a huge hot pool; you don't get to have your bed all the time (cuz they come make it for you), but they also bring the food to your room.

Oh yeah, the food! It was some hardcore Koyasan-style vegan monk gourmet.

Winter melon soup, pumpkin puree, raspberry jelly, tempura, cooked fig, eggplant, and mostly importantly, Koyasan's famous sesame tofu! The sesame tofu has an almost pudding-like texture, it was creamy, soft, and full of sesame's aromatic flavor.

I know I'm the only person who's been watching this anime below, but nevertheless, it's really how I felt facing all that food.

"この世のすべての食材に感謝を込めて、いただきます!"

Thus concludes day 2.

← Day 1: Osaka Day 3: Kobe, not quite lost in translation →