Sign in for a personalized experience.
Japan Guide Homepage
Travel
Living
Forum
Restaurants
Shopping
Jobs
Friends
News
-
Essentials
-
Sightseeing
-
Accommodation
-
Transportation
-
Restaurants
-
Shopping
-
Budget Travel
-
Questions

Home - Travel - Sightseeing Guide - Kansai - Koyasan
Okunoin Temple 
# 1   of 8 most visited
sights in Mount Koya

jump to:   access  -  admission  -  ratings  -  tours

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 Miroku Nyorai (Maihreya), 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 Ichinohashi Bridge (first bridge) marks the traditional entrance to Okunoin, and visitors should bow to pay respect to Kobo Daishi before crossing it. Across the bridge starts Okunoin's cemetery, the largest in Japan, with over 200,000 tombstones lining the almost two kilometer long approach to Kobo Daishi's mausoleum. Wishing to be close to Kobo Daishi in death to receive salvation, many people, including prominent monks and feudal lords, have had their tombstones erected here over the centuries.

Family memorial of a feudal lord

A second, shorter approach to Okunoin, which is used by the majority of visitors these days, starts at the Okunoin-mae bus stop and cuts the walk to the mausoleum in half (to slightly under a kilometer). This alternative route leads through a more recent addition to the cemetery with modern tombstones by individuals, associations and companies, including some surprising ones, such as a pest control company's memorial to all the termites that their products have been exterminating.

Regardless of which approach you choose, both paths meet up at the Gokusho Offering Hall which lies near a row of statues depicting Jizo, a popular Bodhisattva that looks after children, travelers, and the souls of the deceased. Visitors make offerings and throw water at the statues, known as Mizumuke Jizo (Water Covered Jizo) to pray for departed family members.

Mizumuke Jizo
Memorial by Nissan

The Gobyonohashi Bridge crosses a stream behind the Mizumuke Jizo that separates the innermost grounds of the temple from the rest of Okunoin. Visitors should again bow to Kobo Daishi before crossing, and photography, food and drink are forbidden beyond this point. To the left of the bridge are a group of wooden markers placed in the stream as a memorial to unborn children.

A few meters past the bridge on the left side of the path lies the Miroku Stone, housed in a small cage. Visitors are challenged to lift the stone from the cage's lower platform to an upper platform with only one hand. It is believed that the stone feels lighter to good people and heavier to bad people, and that it can provide a connection to the Miroku Bodhisattva.

Torodo Hall (Hall of Lamps) is Okunoin's main hall for worship, built in front of Kobo Daishi's mausoleum. Inside the hall are more than 10,000 lanterns, which were donated by worshipers and are kept eternally lit. In the hall's basement are 50,000 tiny statues that have been donated to Okunoin on the occasion of the 1150th anniversary of Kobo Daishi's entrance into eternal meditation in 1984.

Behind Torodo Hall is Kobo Daishi's Mausoleum (Gobyo), the site of his eternal meditation. Visitors come from all over to pray to Kobo Daishi, and it is not uncommon to see pilgrims chanting sutras here.

Some guidebooks suggest visiting Okunoin's graveyard at night. A night time visit indeed provides a special atmosphere that is quite different from that of a day time visit, but note that some parts of the path are poorly lit. It is possible to venture all the way to the mausoleum during the night, but neither the Torodo Hall nor any of the the other offering halls are open. Also, please behave respectfully and keep in mind that photography, food and drink are prohibited beyond the Gobyonohashi Bridge.

Tombstones of different ages intermingle at the Okunoin graveyard

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.

How to get there
The Ichinohashi Bridge is a 10-15 minute walk or short bus ride (140 yen) from the Senjuinbashi intersection at the town center. From the bus stop, it is about a two kilometer walk to the mausoleum along the traditional approach through the graveyard.

Okunoin-mae bus stop is the final stop of the main bus line that connects Okunoin with the town center (Senjuinbashi) and the cablecar station. The bus ride takes 20 minutes and 410 yen from the cablecar station or 10 minutes and 220 yen from the town center. There are 2-3 buses per hour. From the bus stop, it is about a one kilometer walk to the mausoleum through a newer part of the graveyard.

How to get to and around Koyasan

Hours and Fees
Torodo (Hall of Lanterns)
Hours:6:00 to 17:30
Closed:No closing days
Admission:Free

Gokusho Offering Hall
Hours:8:30 to 16:30
Closed:No closing days
Admission:Free

Advertisement

Tours and Packages
Mt. Koya Tours
Tours and packages for Mt. Koya, including convenient guided tours and a package with lodging at popular temple Fukuchi-in.

User Ratings
Ratings for Okunoin Temple:
japan-guide.com Rating:
  best of Japan  
User Rating (by 210 users):
92/100
  highly recommended

Best rated sights nationwide (out of 782):
28.  Hot Springs (Kinosaki)   93/100
29.  Monkey Park (Yamanouchi)   93/100
30.  Taketomi Island (Yaeyama Islands)   93/100
31.  Uji Tea (Uji)   93/100
32.  Peace Park (Hiroshima)   93/100
33.  Okunoin Temple (Mount Koya)   92/100
34.  Kobe Beef (Kobe)   92/100
35.  Sojiji Temple (Noto Peninsula)   92/100
36.  Katsuo no tataki (Kochi)   92/100
37.  Kinkakuji (Kyoto)   92/100
Most visited sights nationwide (out of 913):
213.  Jufukuji Temple (Kamakura)   358
214.  Rikugien (Tokyo)   357
215.  Furano Flower Fields (Furano)   354
216.  Sankeien Garden (Yokohama)   354
217.  Zuisenji Temple (Kamakura)   349
218.  Okunoin Temple (Mount Koya)   343
219.  Ohara (Kyoto)   342
220.  Kiyosumi Garden (Tokyo)   339
221.  Motomachi (Hakodate)   337
222.  Kurama (Kyoto)   337

User Feedback
We strive to keep japan-guide.com up-to-date and accurate, and are always looking for ways to improve the user experience. If you have any updates, suggestions, corrections or opinions, please let us know:

Online Reservations
Hotel
 
Car
 
Flight
 
Bus

(check-in)

Related Pages

Most Recent Autumn Color Report
September 19
Tokachidake
more reports...

News and Reports
November 8, 2012
Koyasan Autumn Color Report
by schauwecker
Koyasan Autumn Color Report
November 16, 2010

Related Questions
1 way ticket from Nanka Namba to Koyasan
 7 reactions, last updated 7 days ago
Koguchi lodging
 1 reaction, last updated 12 days ago
Kansai Airport-Koyasan and confused...
 3 reactions, last updated 17 days ago
Temple Lodging in Koyasan
 13 reactions, last updated 17 days ago
How do I get from Uno to Koyasan
 2 reactions, last updated 33 days ago
Koyasan first night in Japan
 3 reactions, last updated 46 days ago
Mt Koya to Tokyo
 4 reactions, last updated 58 days ago
Nankai tickets
 0 reactions, last updated 62 days ago
Mount koyosan
 3 reactions, last updated 78 days ago
Shojoshin-In temple in Koyasan
 1 reaction, last updated 108 days ago
How to go from Kansai airport to Mount...
 2 reactions, last updated 126 days ago
Traveling to Koya-San in the afternoon
 1 reaction, last updated 127 days ago
Tokyo to Koyasan, Koyasan to Kii Tanabe
 3 reactions, last updated 128 days ago
Koyasan bus with luggage?
 2 reactions, last updated 128 days ago
Koyasan via Shin-imamiya (instead of...
 2 reactions, last updated 130 days ago
Kyoto to Mt Koya - 1 day trip
 1 reaction, last updated 153 days ago
About Koyasan World Heritage Ticket
 2 reactions, last updated 153 days ago
Kansai thru pass for Koyasan
 1 reaction, last updated 159 days ago
Choosing shukubo stay
 0 reactions, last updated 171 days ago
Koyasan pilgrim route
 2 reactions, last updated 175 days ago

Travel
Living
Japan A-Z
Community
Sightseeing
Accommodation
Transportation
Shopping
Essentials
Regions
Prefectures
Cities
Working
Studying
Living Cost
Apartments
Arts and Crafts
Entertainment
History
Religion
Etiquette
Food
Language
Tradition
Question Forum
Classifieds
Trip Reports
Member Area
Sightseeing Guide
Hokkaido
Sapporo
Otaru
Hakodate
Noboribetsu
Niseko
Furano
Daisetsuzan
Shiretoko
more...
Tohoku
Sendai
Matsushima
Hiraizumi
Hachimantai
Hirosaki
Lake Towada
Dewa Sanzan
Aizu
more...
Kanto
Tokyo
Yokohama
Kamakura
Hakone
Nikko
Kawagoe
Kusatsu
Narita
more...
Chubu
Nagoya
Mount Fuji
Izu Peninsula
Matsumoto
Kiso Valley
Takayama
Shirakawa-go
Kanazawa
more...
Kansai
Kyoto
Osaka
Nara
Kobe
Himeji
Mount Koya
Kumano
Ise Shima
more...
Chugoku
Hiroshima
Miyajima
Okayama
Kurashiki
Tottori
Matsue
Iwakuni
Hagi
more...
Shikoku
Takamatsu
Kotohira
Naoshima
Matsuyama
Kochi
Tokushima
Naruto
Iya Valley
more...
Kyushu
Fukuoka
Nagasaki
Kumamoto
Mount Aso
Beppu
Kagoshima
Kirishima
Yakushima
more...
Okinawa
Honto
Kume
Miyako
Yaeyama
Copyright © 1996-2014 japan-guide.com All rights reserved - Last Page Update: August 27, 2012
home - site map - privacy policy - terms of use - contact - employment - Lɂ‚ - advertising