Garan

4 of 8 spots
in Mount Koya
81% 133
votes
Kondo Hall
× How was it?

Legend has it that Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism, threw his sankosho (a double ended, three pronged Buddhist ceremonial tool) from China, where he had been studying, toward Japan. Back in Japan, while in search of a place to headquarter his new religion, he came across his sankosho stuck in the branches of a pine tree on Koyasan and started construction of the Garan, Koyasan's central temple complex, there. The pine tree, that caught the sankosho, is still growing there.

The two most prominent buildings of the Garan are the Kondo Hall and the huge Konpon Daito Pagoda. The Kondo Hall is a large wooden temple hall where major ceremonies are held. The building has burned down multiple times over the centuries, and the current hall dates back to 1932. It enshrines an image of Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of medicine and healing.

The pine tree where Kobo Daishi found his sankosho (left) and the Konpon Daito Pagoda (right)

Next to the Kondo Hall stands the vermilion Konpon Daito Pagoda, a 45 meter tall, two tiered, tahoto style pagoda. A statue of the Dainichi Nyorai (Cosmic Buddha, also known as Variocana), the central Buddha in Shingon Buddhism, stands in the middle of the pagoda's interior and is surrounded by statues and paintings on pillars, which together make up a rare three dimensional mandala (a metaphysical map of the cosmos). Mandala are usually two dimensional paintings.

Kobo Daishi started building the Kondo Hall and Daito Pagoda, however he was not able to finish them himself. His successors completed the construction of the two main structures and also expanded the grounds of the Garan with multiple additional halls and pagodas over time. Among these are the Toto (eastern pagoda), Saito (western pagoda), Miedo (founder's hall) and Koya Myojin Shrine, which enshrines Mount Koya's local kami (Shinto deities).

Toto Pagoda, Sanmaido Hall and Daiedo Hall towered over by Daito Pagoda in the background

Get There and Around

The Garan lies in central Koyasan's town center, about a five minute walk from the Senjuinbashi intersection, and just a few steps from Kongobuji Temple.

How to get to and around Koyasan

Hours and Fees

Garan Grounds

Hours

Always open

Closed

No closing days

Fees

Free

Kondo Hall and Daito Pagoda

Hours

8:30 to 17:00

Closed

No closing days

Fees

200 yen (each)
2000 yen (combination ticket that includes admission to the Kondo Hall, Daito Pagoda and various other sights on Koyasan)
Last updated: December 8, 2014
Anything we can improve?  Let us know
We strive to keep Japan Guide up-to-date and accurate, and we're always looking for ways to improve. If you have any updates, suggestions, corrections or opinions, please let us know:
Thank you for your feedback.

Hotels around Mount Koya

Find a hotel:

  • Koyasan
  • Fukuoka
  • Hakone
  • Hiroshima
  • Hokkaido
  • Kamakura
  • Kanazawa
  • Kansai Airport
  • Kyoto
  • Mount Fuji
  • Nagasaki
  • Nagoya
  • Narita Airport
  • Nikko
  • Niigata
  • Okinawa
  • Osaka
  • Sapporo
  • Sendai
  • Shima Peninsula
  • Takayama
  • Tokyo
  • 1 night
  • 2 nights
  • 3 nights
  • 4 nights
  • 5 nights
  • 6 nights
  • 7 nights
with:
  • JAPANiCAN
  • Hotels.com
  • Booking.com
  • Agoda
  • Hostel World
  • Japanese Guest Houses
  • Rakuten Travel

Tours and Packages