The Obon Holidays in Japan are for remembering the deceased. During these few days every August, people return to their childhood homes. The spend time with their family and honor their deceased loved ones. Candles are lit. Incense is burned. Flowers are placed on graves.
Fortunately for us, we were in Wakayama during Obon and relatively close to a famous mountain. This mountains name is Koya San. Koya San boasts having the largest-and one of the most beautiful-cemeteries in Japan. There are also countless temples, many at which you can stay the night. Unfortunately this time, we were unable to stay over. Though we were able to see the special Obon event.
The pathway through the Okunoin cemetery was lit on both sides with stone lanterns. Every entering the cemetery was given a handful of small candles to stick along the ground to light the pathway. It was beautiful.
The monk who first settled on Koya San in the year 819 was named Kukai. The monks hold the belief that he never actually died, but rather entered into a continuously in a state of meditation. His body is at the Okunoin Temple, which can be reached after walking through the cemetery.
Sadly, we only had a few hours visiting Koya San. I am hoping to make it back again before our time in Japan ends.