What’s good about Mount Koya?
When I tell people I’m going to Koyasan, first thing first they asked ‘WHY’?
Mount Koya or Kōyasan or 高野山, one of the mountain located in Wakayama Prefecture, south of Osaka. Koyasan is one of UNESCO World Heritage Site, so does it sounds enticing now?
Speaking of Japan, mostly you will ask, is it all Temples? Shrines? To answer this question, YES, it is. So what’s so special about Koyasan? Koyasan is home to an active monastic center founded twelve centuries ago by the priest Kukai (posthumously known as Kobo Daishi) for the study and practice of Esoteric Buddhism. It is the headquarters of the Koyasan sect of Shingon Buddhism, a faith with a wide following throughout Japan.
This is real temple hopping!
Enjoy the real nature beauty of the mountain if you’re not into temples, the great thing is that you don’t have to pay to enter most of the temples and it’s definitely manageable if you want to visit all the temples in one day with Koyasan One Day Bus Pass, it cost 830yen for unlimited bus rides.
Temple Lodging Experiences!
Koyasan is known as one of the best places to experience Temple Lodging, but of course, if only you have enough budget to stay overnight on the mountain. It’s a really unique experience where you can get a taste of how a monk’s lifestyle is, and eating vegetarian cuisine namely shojin ryori, a type of cooking commonly practiced by Buddhist monks in Japan. Apart from that, you will also be attending the morning prayers together with the monks.
There are around fifty temples at Koyasan offering lodging to both visitors and foreigners. Here’s the list of temples offering lodging: eng.shukubo.net/temple-lodging
How to get to Koyasan?
For foreigners to get to Koyasan, you have 3 options, by Koyasan Cable Car, by Car, or hike your way up which is a real good option if you’re into adventure!
Direction by Train
The Nankai Electric Railway makes 4 round trips a day by Limited Express, and runs Express trains at about 30-min intervals between Osaka Namba Station and Koyasan Station. It takes 1 hr 40 min by Limited Express, and around 2 hours by Express. It takes about 2 hours from Wakayama as well.
The only train that access to Gokuraku-bashi station for the cable is Nankai Train, so if you’re on your JR Pass, please note that you will have to transit and pay at Hashimoto Station to Nankai Railway, you can pay with your ICOCA card if you have it too.
In short, if you’re planning to do a One Day Trip to Koyasan, suggest to do it early in the morning as most temples closes around 4pm and do check before you visit for season opening hours as well.