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Cool Japan Guide / One-day trip / Mt. Koya-san (World Heritage Site)

(Koya-san Image Map)

Mt. Koya-san, 900 m high, is where the Shingon Buddhist sect was introduced 1200 years ago by the priest Kukai (774-835) (also known as Kobo Daishi).
If you have extra time, you are welcome to stay at one of the temple's accommodation facilities called shukubo and experience the ascetic training of this sect.
Visit the Link: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/routes/g_route/golden_07.html

We recommend buying the Koya-san Free Service Pass available at stations on the Nankai Dentetsu Line.
If departing from Nanba Station, the fare will be 2,780 yen, a discount of 17% from the regular fare.
This is a set of round-trip tickets to Koya-san and a free bus pass for the Koya-san area. This ticket also entitles you to a 20% reduction on the admission charge at some of the temples.
90 minutes from Nanba Station in Osaka on Nankai Dentetsu Line's Limited Express Koya.
Change at Gokuraku-bashi Station to Koya-san Cable and go to Koya-san Station (5 minutes).
Take a 17-minute bus ride from the station to Daimon.
Up until about 100 years ago, women were not allowed to enter the mountain, and could go only as far as Nyonin-do.

Visiting the Danjo Garan Temple

(Danjo Garan Temple)

Daimon is the gateway to Mt. Koya-san. The guardian of the temple is almost 25 m tall and stares down at you with a frightening face as you pass. ...

Sightseeing time: 30 minutes
Admission: 200 yen

Traveling: A 2-minute walk.

Visiting the Reihokan Koya-san Museum

(The Reihokan Koya-san Museum)

This museum displays cultural assets owned by the temples on Mt. Koya-san, some of which are 1000 years old and designated as national treasures.

Sightseeing time: 60 minutes
Admission: 600 yen

Traveling: A 5-minute walk.

Visiting the Kongoubu-ji Temple

(Kongoubu-ji Temple)

This is the main temple of the 3600 Shingon temples throughout Japan. Many halls run off from the shuden (main hall) that covers 54 m east/west and 63 m south/north.
The paintings on the sliding screens in the great hall are vibrant. The Banryu-tei Garden is the largest stone garden in Japan. Two dragons created from 140 pieces of blue granite and white sand are set as though guarding the okuden (sanctuary).

Sightseeing time: 60 minutes
Admission: 500 yen

Traveling: A 3-minute walk.

Drop in at the Koya-san Tourist Association

(Koya-san Shojin-ryori at lunch time)

You can borrow a voice guide machine that supports 5 different languages.
If you want to try shojin-ryori for lunch, it's best to make a reservation. Shojin-ryori is Buddhist vegetarian cuisine.

Traveling: A 5-minute walk.

Kongou Sanmai-in Temple

(Kongou Sanmai-in Temple)

Hojo Masako (1157-1225) constructed this temple about 800 years ago as a memorial to her deceased husband, Minamoto Yoritomo, the first shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate. The temple is maintained very close to its original condition.
The structures, the Buddha statues and the sliding screen paintings are precious property and the elegant Tahou-to Tower erected around 1223 has been designated as a national treasure. ...

Sightseeing time: 30 minutes
Admission: Viewing the temple grounds is free.

Traveling: Take a bus from Senjuin-bashi (4 minutes) and get off at Ichinohashi-guchi. A 15-minute walk.

Approach to the Okuno-in Temple

(Approach to the Okuno-in Temple)

The sacred atmosphere of the beautiful, cedar-lined approach envelopes you. The 2 km walk takes about 40 minutes.
There are more than 200,000 gravestones and towers constructed as memorials over a period of around 1000 years. You may recognize some important names from Japanese history including warlords Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Oda Nobunaga.

Okuno-in Temple

(Okuno-in Temple)

This is the spiritual resting place of Kukai. Beyond the Gobyo-bashi Bridge, you are not allowed to take photographs, eat, drink or smoke. When you cross this bridge, you bow your head and fold your hands in prayer because it is believed that Kukai waits in welcome at the other side of the bridge.
After passing Tourou-do with its more than 20,000 shining garden lanterns, you arrive at the Gobyo (graveyard).
Sightseeing time: 20 minutes

Traveling: A 30-minute walk to Okuno-in-mae Bus Stop. Take the bus back to Koya-san Station.
Use the Koya-san Cable and Nankai Dentetsu Line to return home. Healthy sesame tofu and koya dofu (freeze-dried bean curd) are recommended as souvenirs.

By TS on Aug 18, 2012
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Author:T. SATOH