Mount Koya

Mount Koya is a large temple settlement in Wakayama Prefecture. It is the centre of Shingon Buddhism, an important Buddhist sect that was introduced to Japan in 805 by Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai), one of Japan’s most significant religious figures. A small, secluded temple town has developed around the sect’s headquarters that Kobo Daishi built on Koyasan’s wooded mountaintop. It is also the site of Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum and the start and endpoint of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage. Shielded by ancient cedar forests and elevated above the worries of modern society, Mount Koya remains a Buddhist sanctuary devoted to serious study and contemplation—while also inviting complete novices to experience an overnight stay and morning prayer at one of its elegant temples.

Group Attractions

  • Attractions
  • Dining
  • Experience
  • Omiyage

Niukanshofu Shrine

Niukanshofu Shrine is a Shinto shrine that was made by Kukai to enshrine the local guardian deities when Jisonin Temple was opened. Located on the hill south of Jison-in, this shrine enshrines Niu and Koya myojin as protective gods for the Kanshofu estate. Later, the two gods Itsukushima and Kehi were invited and worshipped as "Shisho-myojin". Until the Shintoism and Buddhism Separation Degree was issued in the 1st year of Meiji, there used to be Buddhist temple buildings in its compound and this shrine received worship in tandem with Jisonin Temple. (Image via Official Website)

Activities: Shrine visit Fee: None Time required: 45 minutes

Kongobuji Temple

Kongobuji was originally constructed in 1593 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to commemorate the death of his mother. Later it was merged with a neighbouring temple and reorganized into the head temple of Shingon Buddhism. Its name means Temple of the Diamond Mountain Peak. Kongobuji Temple’s highlights include sliding screen doors gilded in gold, Banryutei Rock Garden—the largest rock garden in Japan, and Kongobuji's kitchen with its enormous hearth and kamado stoves large enough to feed up to 2000 people.(Image via Japan Travel)

Activities: Temple visit Fee: JPY 500 Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour

Koyasan Choishi-michi

Koyasan choishi-michi is a twenty-four-kilometre path with a stone marker (ishi) every 109 metres (chō) so that pilgrims can find their way, leading to Mount Koya that forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site: Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range. Is the main traditional pilgrimage route to Koyasan from Jison-in in Kudoyama. The five-tiered stupas were erected in 1285 with donations from the Imperial Family to replace the former wooden posts. One hundred and seventy-nine of the chōishi are original to this period. (Image via Japan Guide)

Activities: Walking, Photo stop Fee: None Time required: Minimum 1 hour

Jisonin Temple

This temple was built to administrate and facilitate the construction of Kongobu-ji. At the entrance of the pilgrimage route Koyasan Choishimichi, this temple provided accommodation to pilgrims and received religious attention. Until the late 1800s, women were not allowed to worship at Koyasan. Jisonin, a temple on the way to Koyasan, welcomed female devotees. Today, it is known for the thousands of breast-shaped offerings hung around the temple and grounds, to pray for women’s health. (Image via Visit Wakayama)

Activities: Temple visit Fee: None Time required: 45 minutes

Niutsuhime Jinja (Niutsuhime Shrine)

Niutsuhime Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Wakayama. It is said to be founded more than 1700 years ago and one of the older shrines in the prefecture. The main hall is partially built in the kasuga-zukuri style. It is a registered World Heritage venue. The deities enshrined here are the guardians of Koyasan, the Buddhist mountaintop temple complex founded by Kobo Daishi. Fans of shrine architecture will appreciate the four main shrine buildings: Japan's largest kasuga-style structures. (Image via Sekaiisan)

Activities: Shrine visit Fee: None Time required: 45 minutes

Okunoin Temple

Okunoin is the site of the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai), the founder of Shingon Buddhism and one of the most revered persons in the religious history of Japan. Instead of having died, Kobo Daishi is believed to rest in eternal meditation as he awaits the Buddha of the Future and provides relief to those who ask for salvation in the meantime. Okunoin is one of the most sacred places in Japan and a popular pilgrimage spot. The temple's expansive grounds are home to Japan's largest cemetery with memorials and monuments to over 200,000 souls, including some of the most famous people in Japanese history. All these souls wished to be closer to the Buddhist pioneer, Kobo Daishi and hoped for a fast track to salvation.

Activities: Walking, Meditation Fee: None Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour

Nearby Areas

Kumano has gathered the faith of people as a dwelling place of the gods over the centuries. Kumano is centred around three shrines, Hongu Taisha, Nachi Taisha and Hayatama Taisha, collectively known as the Kumano Sanzan. Kumano is often called “The Land of the Dead”, about the belief that Shinto spirits and family ancestors dwell here after they die.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *