1.866.316.7268 [email protected]
WPCS 2.1.3
1.866.316.7268 [email protected]
WPCS 2.1.3

Koyasan Add-On

Recommended Length: 2 days/1 night / Best Access: Kyoto, Osaka
Koyasan

Located in a remote wooded area of Wakayama Prefecture, south of Kyoto and Osaka, Kōyasan (高野山) was founded in the year 816 AD by a monk named Kukai (posthumously named Kobo Daishi), one of Japan’s most significant religious figures. Koyasan is the headquarters of the Shingon school of Buddhism, and home to more than 100 temples and monasteries. It is also the site of Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum and the start and end point of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage.

Staying overnight at one of the many temples offering accommodations is an experience of a lifetime. All visitors are welcome, and not only can you see the inner workings of Shingon monastic life, you can also take part in prayer services.  You can also enjoy a shojin-ryori meal, a vegetarian Buddhist cuisine made entirely of seasonal vegetables and edible wild plants. Specialties include koya dofu and its sesame-flavored relative, goma dofu.

For over 1,200 years Koyasan has been one of Japan’s most sacred sites. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004.

Koyasan Map
Sights in Koyasan

Temple Lodging (shukubo)

Some 50 temples in Koyasan offer temple lodgings or shukubō (宿坊) to visiting pilgrims and tourists. Spending the night in one of these temples can give you a chance to get a taste of the simple, traditional lifestyle of Buddhist monks. Temple lodgings typically offer simple, private, traditional Japanese-style rooms with tatami floors, sliding doors (fusuma) and shared toilets and sinks. Futons are spread on floor at night for sleeping. During winter gas heaters are used to provide warmth. The typical cost for a stay is between 9,000 and 15,000 yen per person including dinner and breakfast. Most temples accept cash only.

Okunoin

Once across the Ichinohashi Bridge (first bridge), you enter Okunoin’s (奥の院) cemetery, the largest in Japan, with over 200,000 memorials and monuments lining the almost two kilometer long approach through an ancient cedar forest to Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum. Wishing to be close to Kobo Daishi in death, many people, including heroes of war and modern business to royalty, monks, and feudal lords, have had their monuments erected here over the centuries.

Kongobuji

A designated National Treasure and the oldest building in Koyasan, Kongobuji (金剛峯寺) was originally constructed in 1593 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to commemorate the death of his mother. More than just another place of spiritual worship. Kongobuji Temple is the headquarters of the Buddhist Shingon sect, founded by the monk Kobo Daishi.

Danjo Garan

According to legend Kobo Daishi threw his sankosho (a double ended, three pronged Buddhist ceremonial tool) from China toward Japan. He later found his sankosho stuck in the branches of a pine tree in Koyasan and started construction of the Danjo Garan Temple Complex. Several temples are located inside the Danjo Garan the two most prominent being Kondo Hall and the 49-meter tall Konpon Daito Pagoda.

Koyasan Photo Gallery
Tours/Activities

Sutras and Shakyo

Sutras, the teachings of the Buddha are received directly in a sermon from a high monk. This is one of the most emblematic traditions of Mount Koya and is available for participation year-round.

Sutra copying (shakyo) has long been practiced as a form of meditation and devotional act. Participants are given a sheet of paper with the popular Heart Sutra lightly printed on it. You trace over the kanji characters with a brush pen and when complete you may take it home as a souvenir or dedicate it to Okunoin for a small fee.

Okunoin Cemetery Night Tour

A night time visit provides a special atmosphere that is quite different from that of the day. It is possible to venture all the way to the mausoleum during the night, but neither the Torodo Hall nor any of the the other offering halls are open.

Pricing

Kyoto

Travel Time: 2 1/2 Hours
With JR Rail Pass: $220.00 per person based on double occupancy
Without JR Rail pass: $250.00 per person based on double occupancy
Single Supplement: $86.00

Osaka

Travel Time: 1 1/2 Hours
With JR Rail Pass: $220.00 per person based on double occupancy
Without JR Rail pass: $220.00 per person based on double occupancy
Single Supplement: $86.00

Inclusions

  • Train tickets (If not using a rail pass, we will pre-purchase the tickets.)
  • Suggested train schedule
  • Detailed itinerary and directions
  • Appropriate number of nights at Shojoshinin Temple with dinner and breakfast