Experience a geniune taste of a monk's lifesyte
Koyasan is the headquarters of Shingon Buddhism, one of the most important buddhist sects, settled in 819 by a famous Japanese monk known as Kukai. It is located in a 800m high valley amid the eight peaks of the mountain and completely surrounded by nature. It was registered by UNESCO as World Heritage site in 2004 and granted 3 stars in the Michelin Green Guide Japan.
One of the most interesting attractions in Koyasan is to spend a night in a Temple, where visitors can experience the daily traditional lifestyle of Japanese monks, taste vegetarian monk cuisine and attend the morning prayers. Many Temples in Koyasan offer lodging with different price ranges and services, but all of them require guests to follow the monk's schedule.
Okunoin, or the Inner Sanctuary, is the mausoleum of the founder of Shingon Buddhism Kodo Daishi (also known as Kukai) and one of Japan's most sacred and popular pilgrimage spots. A 2km path across a thick forest surrounded by ancient cedar trees, grave stones, statues and religious constructions, leads the way to the main Temple in a relaxed and mystic atmosphere.
Garan was developed by the monk Kukai on his arrival in Koyasan and stands today as its main Temple Complex. Its two main structures are the Konpon Daito, a 48 meter tall pagoda with a lacquer finish, and the Kondo Hall, both of which were started by Kukai himself but completed and expanded by his successors after his death.
Kongobuji was originally built in 1593 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to commemorate the death of his mother and is nowadays the head temple of the Shingon Buddhist sect. It is well known for the pictures that decorate the main halls, which were painted by famous Japanese artists, and for its rock large garden, which is the biggest in Japan.
Nankai Ltd. Exp. Koya
80 min. 850¥
Nankai Koyasan Cable Car
5 min. 380¥
10 min. 280¥
Most of Koyasan's attractions can be easily explored on foot from the city's main intersection in Senjuinbashi bus station. Alternatively, three bus lines cover all the visiting points with a minimum frequency of one per hour.