The Saint of Mt. Koya is a tale of a holy man’s hard-type journey through the wilderness and fleshly temptations to find the meaning of nature and love. In the story, a young Buddhist monk from mount Koya goes on a pilgrimage to Shinshu.In the adventure, the saint finds a field of snakes, then a dark forest of raining blood sucking leeches and finally lures a woman with mysterious powers. Perhaps the influence of the story arises from the culture of gothic that had not been explored in Japanese culture. Still, the woman’s story how she become attached to her grotesque and disabled husband while stranded in the wild is a powerful them of love. However, her love and kindness is contrasted with her demonic and evil personality. In the end we are given a powerful choice of monk who makes the decision to choose between lust and love.
Buddhists believe that all living things are born into one stage existence that includes samsara in Sanskrit all called “the cycle of life and death”. All beings that live are trapped in the realms of existence in recurring lives each taking a different form. The individuals can only free themselves from doom if they break from desire. The lifestyle while alive is a key determinant of how one lives in the afterlife. In the story the Saint of Mt. Koya, the saint is faced with the dilemma of choosing monastery over love. In choosing love, the saint if faced to grapple with the challenge of a possible after life that is less than human. This is why there is a possibility of the demonic influence.
The Tale of the Wanderng Monk, Charles Shiro Inouye, tr. The Limited Editions Club, New York, 1995.