Koyasan Travel Guide

  • Koyasan
    by ingosf
  • Kongôbu-ji
    Kongôbu-ji
    by lotharscheer
  • My Koyasan
    My Koyasan
    by robertbaum

Koyasan Highlights

  • Pro
    CO-Chad profile photo

    CO-Chad says…

     Historic temples and beautiful mountain forests 

  • Con
    Nichola1 profile photo

    Nichola1 says…

     The cable car to the top should be in a amusement park - it`s scary!! 

  • In a nutshell
    aukahkay profile photo

    aukahkay says…

     Pervasive spiritual atmosphere 

Koyasan Things to Do

  • Okunoin

    For most visitors to Mount Koya, the Okunoin is the best part! To put it plainly, it is a cemetary, but it is surprising at how serene and beautiful it is. The graves and monuments amidst the forest layed out the way it is creates a unique atmosphere. Of course, knowing that Mount Koya is a highly spiritual site may also contribute to the amazing...

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  • Reihokan Museum

    The Reihokan is the museum on Mount Koya housing many temple treasures and other important religious artwork. There are many mandala, as well as sculptures inside. It's a nice place to stop as you explore Mount Koya. Because they are trying to preserve the paintings, they keep it quite cool. I imagine this is nice in the summertime. I visited...

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  • Daimon Gate

    The Daimon Gate of Mount Koya is quite large and marks one of the entrances to the holy grounds. The Nio statues that guard the sacred site were carved during the Edo Period. The gate is also located near one of the entrances to the women's trail. In the past, women were not permitted to enter the sacred grounds on Mount Koya, but female pilgrims...

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  • Garan

    The Garan is the main spiritual center of Mount Koya. This is the complex where Kukai actually built his temple and is the head temple of the Shingon sect. The Kondo Hall and Konpon Daito Pagoda were built by Kukai, but his predecessor built the rest of the structures, because Kukai died prior to the completion of the complex. The temples today are...

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  • Nyonindo

    In the past, there was a Nyonindo at every entranceway to Mount Koya, but today the only one that remains is located at the first stop of the bus across from the Otakejizou.The Nyonindo served as stations to mark the entrance to the holy grounds, which also meant that they served to indicate the point which women were no longer allowed to travel....

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  • Tokugawa Mausoleum

    Mount Koya is considered to be the most prestigious gravesite in Japan, so Tokugawa Iemitsu built this mausoleum for his family, as they were highly important figureheads. It is believed to have been completed in 1643, enshrining Tokugawa Ieyasu and Hidetada (Japan's first shoguns).It is important to note that these men are not buried here....

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  • Otakejizou

    The giant Jizou statue at the beginning of the Koyasan trail was built in 1860 by a woman named Yokoyama Take in honor her parents and all of the of other victims of the Great Ansei Earthquake that hit Tokyo (Edo) in 1855. It is the "Otake" jizou, because her name is Take. The "O" is honorific.Most people who come here still pray for family and...

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  • Okuno-In

    Okuno-In is certainly my favourite place in Koyasan, although we were only there for two days and a night. It's a graveyard/temple in an old forest on the edge of town, where a great monk is interred. I heard that the monk is not believed dead, but in a state of prolonged deep meditation. Follow the signs from the centre of town and you'll get to...

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  • Rosoku Matsuri (Candle Festival)

    Each year during O-bon, around August 13th, head up to Koya-san for the candle festival, when people walk from the cemetery entrance to Okunoin, lighting thousands of candles in the cemetery to help the spirits of loved ones and ancestors rise up to heaven. Okunoin, itself filled with candles year-round, holds special ceremonies throughout the...

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  • Morning in Okunoin Cemetery

    Take a walk through Okunoin cemetery in the morning, when the sun is rising and there aren't many people around. It's so old and beautiful, with the cedar trees vaulting high over your head, that you'll completely forget you're in a cemetery.

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  • Daishi

    The Daishi Hall is a large structure. The Daishi Temple is very important for Daishi believers all over Japan who want to become missionaries. It is the headquarters for the training of Buddhist missionaries in Japan.

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  • Tokugawa Family Mausoleum

    The mausoleum of the Tokugawa Family was built by the third shogun Iemitsu Tokugawa. It took 10 years to build and is architecturally representative of the Edo Period. First Edo shogun Ieyasu and second shogun Hidetada are enshrined in this mausoleum.

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  • Konpondaito Pagoda

    Standing at 48.5m tall and situated right in the center of Koyasan, this red pagoda was built as a seminary for the esoteric practices of Shingon Buddhism.

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  • Kondo Hall

    The Kondo hall is situated in the middle of the Garan area just east of Daimon. This is the main hall of the Kongobuji Temple. First built in 819, the current structure is the 7th reconstructed in 1932 on the site. Important Buddhist services are performed here.

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  • Daimon

    The Daimon is a mammoth gate which stands as the main entrance to Koyasan. It is flanked on each side by Kongo warriors who guard the mountain. The view from the gate is magnificent and on a clear day, can reach as far as the Seto Inland Sea.

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  • Mizukake Jizo guardian deities

    Along the cemetery path in Okunoin, one will come across a row of Buddha deities. Pilgrims come to this place to pour water over the Buddha figures in return for blessings.

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  • Okunoin

    Surrounded by mountains on three sides and with the Tama River running along its foot, Okunoin Temple sits in a tranquil and mystical atmosphere. An eerie silence pervades the atmosphere as one walks through thousands of tombs leading to the mausoleum of Kobodaishi and the hall of lanterns.

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  • The big cemetary

    Lots of Japanese people have their ashes sent here. Even Nissan and a UCC coffee have a bit for the employees` ashes to be buried!

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Koyasan Transportation

  • TRAVELLING TO KOYASAN

    Travelling to Koyasan has many steps. We departed from Kyoto.1. Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka2.Mido-suji Subway Line to Namba Subway/Train Station ( we did this in rush hour)3. Walk the length of Namba station ( 1 km or more,for sure ) to the Nankai-Koya train platforms4. Take the Nankai-Koya train to Gokuraku-bashi . There is an express and a second...

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  • Nankai Koyasan Sabic

    The Nankai group offers a transportation package that includes round-trip travel to Koysan by train and cable car, plus unlimited travel on Nankai busses within Koyasan. The package also includes a 10% discount at souvenir shops, 20% discounts on entry to several sites, and a free cup of tea at Kongobuji. (You first must pay to enter Kongobuji -...

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  • Travel in Mount Koya

    The Cablecar that takes you up to Mount Koya is the longest in the country. From the station at the top, you then take a bus up to the holy areas. If you want to see everything or want to travel on the women's trail, get off at the first stop (Nyonindo-mae). The Nyonindo and Otakejizou are located here. You can easily walk to the other sites. The...

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Koyasan Warnings and Dangers

  • Weather at Koyasan is highly...

    As Koyasan is nestled in the mountains, the weather can be highly unpredictable. I went up on a clear sunny day in early April. When I reached Koyasan at around 10 am, the thermometer registered 3.5 deg C!! There was fresh fallen overnight snow on the way up on the cable car! Remember to bring sufficient warm clothing especially if you are planning...

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  • Sacred traffic?

    For such a peaceful mountain get away, inhabited by monks and spiritual seekers, the cars seem to go really fast down Koyasan's main street. This is, after all, Kansai, a place where Tokyo-ites fear to drive. I recommend taking the bus, and mind your step as you walk along the main road.The photo is a bit misleading. It shows a broad sidewalk - one...

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  • Koyasan Hotels

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Koyasan Tourist Traps

  • lotharscheer's Profile Photo
    Cable car and bus station 4 more images

    by lotharscheer Updated Apr 17, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The one day bus pass, 800 Yen, is only worth buying if you have problems walking and want to see  the Daimon Gate as well. If you don't want to miss Oku-no-in and surrounding graveyard you have to walk 4 to 5 km, maybe another 2 to 3 km if you walk back to the cablecar station from the center (Kongobu-ji Temple etc.) or 1,5 to to if you walk back from Daimon Gate (less frequent buses, you might have to wait some time). 

    Fun Alternatives: Bus from the cablecar station to the last (closest to Olu-no-in) station 390 Yen, from the center to the cablecar station 290 Yen (or less depending witch station you get on), to the Daimon Gate 170 Yen (you need coins, no change given).
    If you walk the hole way it will Be around 10 km walking.

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    • Historical Travel

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Koyasan Off The Beaten Path

  • LeDragon's Profile Photo
    Koyasan information map

    by LeDragon Written Aug 16, 2005

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    "Tintin et les brebis de Koyasan", the new Hergé book :-) An information map at the entry of the town.

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Koyasan Favorites

  • CO-Chad's Profile Photo
    School trip - luckily not headed for Koyasan

    by CO-Chad Updated Apr 21, 2006

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Koyasan was pleasant and fairly uncrowded when we visited on a weekday. However, I will offer this advice, especially if you're there on a busier day.

    The railroad suggests several "model courses" for seeing the sights in Koyasan. Most start by taking the bus from Koyasan station to Okunoin. If you like crowds, follow the model course, along with everyone else. If you don't like crowds, get off the bus from Koyasan station at Senjuin-bashi and change to the bus for Daimon. This way, you'll be moving in the opposite direction of most of the model courses, and avoiding most of the crowds.

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    • Trains
    • Arts and Culture

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