Bicycle hire in Japan Featured Holiday in 2013 Japanese Buddhist temple Koya-san (Mt Koya) Travel Wakayama Prefecture Wakayama「和歌山」 World Heritage site

Travel Guide (World Heritage site)

Danjo Garan at sunrise

Mount Koya 「Kōyasan, 高野山」 is a 1200 yr previous sacred temple city within the mountains of northern Wakayama Prefecture. There are over 100 temples in Koyasan. Koyasan is a UNESCO World Heritage space, a part of the Sacred Websites and Pilgrimage Routes within the Kii Mountain Vary. The location consists of Yoshino and Omine in Nara Prefecture and Kumano Sanzan in Wakayama Prefecture.

Danjo Garan at sunrise

Danjo Garan at dawn

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Koyasan is near Nara, Kyoto and Osaka. The “Pilgrimage Route” a part of its World Heritage title refers to an historic street that linked this space to Nara and Kyoto (each earlier capitals of Japan). In 816 the Shingon Buddhism sect established Koyasan.

There are over 50 temples in Koyasan providing lodging to guests. I stayed for an evening at Renge-in 「蓮花院」 in the midst of city. Koyasan temple lodgings supply a tremendous expertise – staying at an actual Japanese Buddhist temple, consuming their conventional delicacies and collaborating of their prayers.

Koyasan has many websites to go to, and sadly I solely stayed for one night time. That stated, it was loads of time to benefit from the Danjo Garan and rise up near the Daimon (The Grand Gateway).

The Grand Gateway to Koyasan

Daimon「Giant Entrance Gate, 大門」

This large gate, over 25 metres excessive, is the formal entrance to Mount Koya. From Koyasan Practice Station, you possibly can catch a bus on to the gate. In any other case, it’s a simple 15 minute (1 kilometre) stroll or 5 minute bicycle journey from Danjo Garan.

The Daimon is a zuishi-mon「随身門」 fashion tower gate, just like the gates at Daigo-ji in Kyoto and Kanda Myojin in Akihabara, Tokyo. Inside the 2 foremost pillars of the gates are fierce wanting Niō statues, guardians of this sacred space.

Daimon 「Large Entrance Gate, 大門」 at Mount Koya

Daimon: 25m excessive entrance gate to the mountain complicated

Daimon, the grand gateway
Necessary cultural treasure

Located on the west finish of the basin of Kōyasan, it’s the western entrance to Kōyasan. Roads from Kinokawa valley and Aritagawa valley met right here. The gateway was reconstructed in 1705. Lately it was repaired with the opening of the motor-car street in current time. It’s got exercise as an necessary entrance to Koyasan.

Inscription on signal by Wakayama Prefecture Board of Schooling 「教育委員会」 and Kongobu-ji Head Temple 「総本山金剛峯寺」

Danjo Garan Temple Complicated 「壇上伽藍」

Danjo Garan is the central temple complicated of Mount Koya. Secret Shingon Buddhism coaching has been happening right here for a whole lot of years. At sundown whereas taking pictures an extended line of monks proceeded into the temple complicated, their chants echoing across the grounds.

Konpon Daitō 「Nice Stupa, 根本大塔」

Konpon Daito (Great Stupa, 根本大塔) at Danjo Garan, Koya-san

「Konpon Daitō, 根本大塔」 The Nice Stupa is almost 50m tall, dominating the Danjo Garan complicated

This large pagoda is nearly 50 metres excessive, the The Nice Stupa is the towering icon of Danjo Garan. The colossal stature of this constructing is mesmerising. Pictures simply can’t do it justice. The brilliant vermillion colored exterior and tall spire seen virtually anyplace on the temple grounds. I visited this website twice in two days, as soon as within the afternoon and as soon as at dawn the subsequent morning, making an attempt to seize the grandeur of The Nice Stupa.

Danjo Garan at sunrise

Danjo Garan at dawn: Nice Stupa within the center, Kon-dō important corridor on the best and Mei-dō corridor on the left

Kon-dō 「Golden Corridor, 金堂」

Kon-dō「Golden Hall, 金堂, こんどう 」(HDR Photo) at Koyasan

Kon-dō「Golden Corridor, 金堂 」

This constructing was one of many first constructed at Koyasan, nevertheless it’s been destroyed and rebuilt 7 occasions. For Buddhists monks and all the group within the mountain complicated the Kon-dō is a vital constructing, used for a lot of Buddhist providers. The constructing is likely one of the largest within the Danjo Garan.

Tōtō 「Japanese Stupa, 東塔」

Tōtō (Eastern Stupa, 東塔) at Koyasan

Toto 「Japanese Stupa, 東塔」

The unique Japanese Stupa was initially inbuilt 1127. It was destroyed by hearth in 1843, and was rebuilt over 100 years later, to commemorate the demise of Kukai – founding father of the Shingon Buddhism and of Mt Koya.

Autumn leaves, next to the Eastern Stupa at Koya san

Autumn leaves, subsequent to the Japanese Stupa

I took this journey in late early October, however had initially deliberate this journey for November – to see the colors of autumn surrounding Japan’s most beautiful places. A lot of the locations I visited on this journey (like Hakone Shrine) have been nonetheless shiny with the inexperienced of summer time, however right here in Koyasan, which is at a a lot greater elevation, the leaves had already began to show that basic rusty-gold color.

Pathway from Mount Koya township to Danjo Garan complex

Pathway from Mount Koya township to Danjo Garan complicated

Fudō-dō 「Fudō Corridor, 不動堂」

The oldest construction on Mount Koya

This constructing is over 800 years previous. The Fudō-dō is the oldest constructing in Koyasan, inbuilt 1197. Enshrined inside is Fudō-myō 「God of Hearth, 不動明王」 and the Hachidai-Doji 「the Eight Younger Boy Attendants, 八代童子」, sculptures of those deities have been created across the time of preliminary development of this corridor.

Fudō-dō 「Fudō Hall, 不動堂」

Fudō-dō 「Fudō Corridor, 不動堂」

The corridor is constructed within the shoin-zukuri 「書院造」 type of Japanese structure of the Kamakura Interval 「Kamakura-jidai, 鎌倉時代」.

Saito 「Western Stupa, 西塔」

Saito 「Western Stupa, 西塔」

Saito 「Western Stupa, 西塔」

The Saito is a tahōtō 「多宝塔」 type pagoda (similar as the huge Konpon Daito) and stands at 27 metres tall. This stupa was initially inbuilt 886, the current construction was inbuilt 1834.

Myō Shrine 「Myō-jinja, 御社」

Myo Shrine 「Myō-jinja, 御社」

Myo Shrine 「Myō-jinja, 御社」

Myō-jinja is residence to Niu-myōjin (丹生明神, the royal mistress of Mount Koya) and her son Kariba-myōjin (狩場明神, hunter guardian of the mountain’s forests). Like a lot of Danjo Garan, the buildings listed here are shaded within the forest’s cedar timber.

This torii (shrine gate) is the entrance to Myō-jinja

This torii (shrine gate) is the doorway to Myō-jinja

Rokkaku-Kyozo 「Hexagonal Depository of the Scriptures, 六角経蔵」

Rokkaku-Kyozo 「六角経蔵」

Rokkaku-Kyozo 「六角経蔵」

Aizen-dō 「Aizen Corridor, 愛染堂」 and Daie-dō 「Daie Corridor, 大会堂」

Left: Aizen-dō (愛染堂), Right: Daie-dō (大会堂)

Left: Aizen-dō 「Aizen Corridor, 愛染堂」, Proper: Daie-dō 「Daie Corridor, 大会堂」

The Aizen-dō was first inbuilt 1334, the present constructing inbuilt 1848. Enshrined on this constructing is Aizen Myō-ō 「愛染明王」 the god of affection. The Japanese kanji character 愛 (ai) is roughly translated to “love”.

Within the small city of Mount Koya

Koyasan is a small city, just some thousand individuals name the historic mountain city house. Most of the houses and outlets have been constructed within the Edo Interval (just like the streets of Narai-juku alongside the Nakasendo). There are lots of temples providing lodging to vacationers, most situated within the middle of city.

Temple lodging, on Koyasan's main street

Temple lodging – Henjoko-in 「遍照光院」 – on Koyasan’s fundamental road

Inside a small space there are over 50 temples providing lodging. Most of those are actual working Buddhist temples, and guests take pleasure in conventional Buddhist meals and may participate in morning prayers.

Small altar on Koyasan's main street

Small altar on Koyasan’s primary road

Map of Koyasan

UNESCO World Heritage: Koya-san map

UNESCO World Heritage: Koya-san map

There’s far more to see in Mount Koya than simply the Daimon and Danjo Garan. Different websites embrace:

  • Okunoin Temple
  • Kongobuji Temple
  • Reihokan Museum
  • Daishi Kyokai
  • Tokugawa Mausoleum (Tokugawa Reidai)

Methods to get to Mount Koya and Danjo Garan

Half the enjoyable of going to Mount Koya is the totally different modes of transport used to get to this distant mountain city. A practice is taken from Osaka to a station close to Koyasan. A cable automotive is then taken up the mountain to Koyasan station, then a brief bus experience into the city of Koyasan.

The primary leg of the journey begins at Shin-Imamiya Station 「新今宮駅」 or Namba Station 「難波駅/なんば駅」 in Osaka. Koya-san can be reached from Kansai Airport, Kyoto, Nara and Tokyo, see the official Nankai Railways Koyasan entry web page (English) for extra particulars.

At both Shin-Imamiya or Namba Station, discover the Nankai Railway ticket workplace. A handy Koyasan-World Heritage Ticket may be bought right here, which final for two consecutive days (day 1 is the day you buy the ticket, by way of to the top of the subsequent day). On the station, there’s a check in English with full particulars of the tickets obtainable.

The ticket best choice prices ¥Three,400 for a restricted categorical practice to and from Koya-san station. This ticket not solely supplies discounted practice journey, but in addition covers the price of the cable automotive and bus to get you to the city of Mount Koya, in addition to discounted entry to many websites. See the official Nankai Railways Koyasan World Heritage Ticket web page (English) for full particulars.

Shin-Imamiya Station, on the way to Koyasan

Nankai Railway ticket workplace Shin-Imamiya Station

From Shin-Imamiya or Namba Station you’ll take a practice on the Nankai line to Gokuraku-bashi Station 「極楽橋駅」. The practice journey takes about 90 minutes.

2 trains at Gokurabashi Station

Gokurabashi Station

At Gokuraku-bashi Station, change to the cable automotive. The indicators are clear and straightforward to seek out, and the cable automotive service often departs shortly after the practice arrives, so make your means straight to the cable automotive. The cable automotive takes about 5 minutes alongside a steep climb to Koyasan station.

Cable car at Gokurakubashi Station

Cable automotive at Gokurakubashi Station

At Koyasan station, exit the station and select a bus. The bus timetable is intently linked to the arrival of the cable automotive, so head straight to the buses. For particulars on driving the bus, see the official Koya City Workplace bus web page (English).

Bus stop at Koyasan Station

Bus cease at Koyasan Station

Bus to Koyasan

Bus to Koyasan

Bicycle rent

Though the World Heritage ticket covers the buses in Koyasan, I favor to experience a motorcycle when out there. In the midst of city on the Shukubo Affiliation’s Central Info Workplace, bicycle rent is on the market. It prices ¥400 for the primary hour, then ¥100 per 30 minutes. Reservations may be made by telephone (the workplace have employees who can converse English) by contacting 0736-56-2616 from 9AM to 5PM.

I traveled at an off-peak time and didn’t reserve a bicycle, and there have been a lot obtainable on the day.

Central information Center & Shukubo Temple Lodging Association

Mt Koya’s Central Info Middle & Shukubo Temple Lodging Affiliation

Opening hours and admission value

Daimon and Danjo Garan are open websites – there are not any “open hours”. I took full benefit of this and photographed Danjo Garan at sundown and all through the night time, then once more at dawn (round four:30AM).

The Konpon Daitō 「Nice Stupa, 根本大塔」 and Kon-dō 「Golden Corridor, 金堂」 are open for entry from eight:30AM to 5PM and price ¥200 every to enter. With the Koyasan World Heritage ticket, entry is discounted by 20%.

Traveler’s ideas

  • Rent a bicycle!
  • Keep at a temple, and spend a minimum of 1 night time/2 days in Koyasan. You possibly can see all of Koyasan over 2 nights/Three days. I spent just one night time right here, and will certainly return to see Kongobuji Temple, the Tokugawa Mausoleum and the Okunoin space.
  • Permit loads of time to get to and from Koyasan, the one-way journey from Osaka to Koyasan can take Three hours or extra, relying on transfers.

When to go to (occasions & festivals)

Many necessary Buddhist rituals happen at Koyasan.

March 21: Sho-Mie-Ku

Anniversary of Koyasan’s founder Kukai’s “entrance into eternal meditation”. Chief clergymen from each temple in Koyasan carry out a memorial service at Okunoin. With a big procession of clergymen the ceremonies are stated to be fairly spectacular.

Might Three-5 and October 1-Three: Kechien Kanjo

Buddhist monks and clergymen carry out an austerity ritual which goals to understand the pure spirituality and knowledge of Buddha that’s inside us all. The ceremony is carried out on the Kon-dō of Danjo Garan.

August 13: Mando- Kuyoe (Candle Pageant)

Alongside the 2km sacred strategy to Okunion 100,000 candles are positioned to wish for the souls at these buried at this necessary graveyard, in addition to for one’s personal ancestors.

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