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Mount Koya (Koyasan)

Mount Koya (Koyasan)Map of KoyasanMount Koya is located about 45 km east of Wakayama city, and is called "Koyasan" in Japanese.

There isn't the mountain named Koya here.
Here is a small basin at an altitude of about 800 meters, and eight mountains about 1,000 meters high surround the basin.
We usually call this basin "Koyasan".

Koyasan has been a sacred area of Shingon Buddhism.
It was constructed as the training place of Buddhism by high priest Kuukai (774-835. His nickname was Kobo-Daishi.) from 816.
He was the founder of Shingon Buddhism, and has been one of the most known and believed priests in Japan.

Kongobuji The central temple in Koyasan is Kongobuji temple. Whole Koyasan is the site of Kongobuji.
It is the headquaters of Shingon Buddhism, and was founded in 816.
Many worshippers visit this temple every year. And the pilgrims who have finished visiting all of 88 temples in Shikoku Island associated with Kuukai visit here to thank Kuukai for their safe pilgrimages.

The main temple had been completed around the mid-10th century.
But most of the buildings had been detroyed in 994 by fire by lightning strike. So this temple was abandoned.
After that, this temple had been rebuilt by high priest Jouyo since 1016, then Koyasan became a major sacred town with many temples in the 13th century.

In the 16th century, this temple confronted Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582, one of the strongest warlords).
Then Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598, the warlord who united Japan) pressed this temple.
But Koyasan showed submission to Hideyoshi and he had a faith in Koyasan.
Since that, many Shogun and feudal lords built there tombs or memorial monuments here.

The sacred town spreads along a main road about 3.5 km long running from east to west.
In the center of the town, there is the main temple of Kongobuji. It was rebuilt in 1863.
There is a large parking lot in front of the entrance, and it is always crowded with many visitors, cars and buses.

There is a site named "Danjo-Garan" about 300 meters west of the main temple.
It is the site that Kuukai constructed and operated first, and has several important buildings.
They are Kondo, Miedo, Fudoudo, and so on.
Most attractive building is Konpon-Daito. It is is a two-story pagoda 48.5 meters high, and is the symbol of Koyasan.
The original pagoda was built in the 9th century, and this pagoda was rebuilt in 1937.

There is large Daimon gate about 800 meters west of Danjo-Garan. The height is about 25 meters, and was rebuilt in 1705.
It is located at the west end of Koyasan, and is the main gate to Koyasan.
After cars and tour buses climb up a long and steep mountain road, they reach this gate. The visitors know that they has arrived at the sacred town at last.

At the east end of Koyasan, there is Okunoin.
Okunoin is the most sacred temple built at the place where Kuukai died.
It is said that Kuukai was gone by doing Zen sitting meditation with the pose of Dainichi-Nyorai Buddha.
An approach about 2 km long leads to the temple from the main road. And around the approach, a few hundred thousand tombs and memorial monuments are set up.
They has been built by many people who want to be with sacred Kuukai for a long time.
They include the tombs and the monuments of many historical warlords, many famous actors, many intellectuals, and many business managers.
We are not allowed to take the photo of the sacred temple.

In the other part of Koyasan, there are 117 small branch temples of Kongobuji.
Koyasan has no hotel and ryokan. But 52 temples have "shukubo" (inn of temple), and we can lodge there.

Koyasan is a part of "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range" of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Kongobuji official website
Welcome to Koyasan : Official website of Koyasan Tourist Association

How to get to here

By railroad

  1. By limited express of Nankai Line, about 1 hour and 20-27 minutes from Nanba (Osaka) to Gokurakubashi terminal.
  2. By cable car, about 5 minutes from Gokurakubashi to Koyasan.
  3. By route bus, about 11 minutes to around Kongobuji.
    The route bus runs on the main road in Koyasan.

By car

  1. Run on Route 24 along Kinokawa River.
  2. Then enter Route 480 at Katsuragi town. It is a mountain road, and the length to Koyasan is about 20 km. (It takes about an hour.)

Cable car of Koyasan
Main temple of Kongobuji
©Wakayama Prefecture / ©JNTO
Dainichi-Nyorai in Konpon-Daito
©Wakayama Prefecture / ©JNTO
Miedo Daimon
Main street in Koyasan (Route 480) Entrance to Okunoin
Tombs along the approach to Okunoin The temple over there is Okunoin.

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