Mount Koya (Koya-san)


Mount Koya (Koya-san), located in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, is a revered mountain known for its spiritual significance. It serves as the headquarters of the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism, centered around the Kongobuji Temple. Founded in the early 9th century by the monk Kukai (Kobo Daishi), Mount Koya has been a center of Buddhist practice and pilgrimage for over 1200 years.

History and Features

Kukai founded it in 819. He chose this secluded location for meditation, training, and teaching of Shingon Buddhism. It quickly became a sacred site attracting monks and pilgrims alike. In 2004, it was designated as part of the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range” World Heritage Site, together with Kumano Kodo.

How to Get Mount Koya

The starting city for visiting Koyasan is Osaka. The journey from Osaka to Mount Koya involves a train ride followed by a cable car, totaling about 2 hours. The Nankai Electric Railway offers convenient access, especially through the “Koyasan” express services.

There are some package tours to Koya-san are available. For example, Mt. Koya Sacred Full-Day Private Tour (Osaka departure) with Licensed Guide departs from Osaka everyday. This tour uses public transportation. So the price is reasonable.

Mt Koya 2 Day Walking Tour from Osaka is another good tour. In this tour, you can stay in a Shukubo (temple lodging). It can be an unforgettable experience.

You may wish to visit Koyasan from Kyoto. In that case, we recommend that you take a train from Kyoto to Osaka and take a tour from Osaka.

Food and accommodation

Koya-san is famous for its vegetarian cuisine, known as Shojin Ryori. Temples and restaurants around the area offer delicious meals made from seasonal vegetables and mountain herbs.

At Koya-san, tourists can stay overnight in some of the monks’ quarters, called Shukubo. In Shukubo, visitors can enjoy Shojin Ryori as well as experience the daily routine of the temple.

Recommended Seasons

Mount Koya is beautiful throughout the year, but the autumn colors make it exceptionally picturesque. Spring brings cherry blossoms, summer is lush with greenery, and winter offers serene snowscapes.

Events in Mount Koya

Annual events include the celebration of Kukai’s birth in April, known as the “Kobo Daishi’s Birthday Festival,” and the “Candle Festival” in August, commemorating the founding of Koya-san. These events offer a glimpse into the rich culture and traditions of the area.

Mount Koya, with its deep history, cultural significance, and natural beauty, provides peace and tranquility to its visitors. It is a must-visit for history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and those seeking spiritual solace.


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