Seeking Solitude in Japan’s Mountain Monasteries; Anna Hezel; The New York Times

Japan – Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range

“Your eyes should be neither open nor closed,” explained the monk at the front of the room. “They should be sort of sleepy — like a Buddha.” It was my first time meditating, and I was anxious about making some sort of conspicuous misstep. I squinted, then tried to relax my eyelids, but inadvertently began to focus on the bright orange cushion of the person in front of me. I closed my eyes with an inward sigh of exasperation at having such a difficult time following instructions. The monk leading the session told us cheerfully that it might help to rest our vision on the tips of our noses.

I was sitting in the carpeted meditation hall of an 1,100-year-old Buddhist temple in Koyasan, in a mountainous region of southeastern Japan.

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