This Is NOT Sydney

Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2011 | 0 comments

     Our long-awaited, much anticipated and, might I add, fully pre-paid trip to Sydney never actually happened last week. Blame it on a passport snafu that was discovered 4 hours before our plane departed. Had we been willing to pay about $2000 more, I could've taken our original flight with Keila, and Yuki would've met us the next day. Money aside, I actually started crying at the thought of flying alone with Keila again after having arrived in Japan a little more than 24 hours previously. Not that Pooper doesn't do well on planes; she's actually a champ when it comes to flying. But 12 hours of holding her on my lap combined with lack of sleep had really done me in. So it was actually a big relief when we decided to just cancel and save the cash.
  JAL was nice enough to refund some of our airfare; Four Points by Sheraton  in Sydney....not so much. I realize that they have a no-refund policy for the type of room we had booked, but at least a little understanding would've been nice (and gained them a loyal customer in the future).
  While we were bummed about the hotel situation and not being able to meet up with some friends there, we decided to make the most of the situation and go on a mini vacation here in Japan. Especially since I wanted to get Keila a bit farther west and away from the still-problematic nuclear reactor. In lieu of 5 days in Sydney, we used our airfare refund to drive to Koyasan, a World Heritage site in Wakayama prefecture. No idea where Wakayama is? Don't worry, nobody else seems to either. But I will say that it boasts one of the most beautiful World Heritage sites I've been in Japan or anywhere else, for that matter.
  Some background from the Koyasan official website ( "Kôyasan is home to an active monastic center founded twelve centuries ago by the priest Kûkai (posthumously known as Kôbô Daishi) for the study and practice of Esoteric Buddhism. It is the headquarters of the Kôyasan sect of Shingon Buddhism, a faith with a wide following throughout Japan."
  Besides the beautiful sightseeing opportunities in this town, many of the temples also offer lodging (shukubo) to visiting tourists and pilgrims. More than 50 temples in Koyasan offer shukubo, and online reservations are quite easy to make. We booked 2 nights at different temples so that we could get the full experience. While the cost may seem quite steep (between about 10000 to 20000 yen per person), this includes dinner and breakfast. Considering the price of shojin ryori (vegan meals that Buddist monks traditionally eat) at restaurants, the prices really aren't that bad.
  More posts to follow on our Koyasan trip, but here's one picture for now. Enjoy!

              We didn't see any kangaroos in Australia, but we found one in Japan!