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Home - Travel - Sightseeing Guide - Kansai - Koyasan
Garan 
# 4   of 8 most visited
sights in Mount Koya

jump to:   access  -  admission  -  ratings  -  tours

Kondo Hall

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

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.

How to get there
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
Admission:Free

Kondo Hall and Daito Pagoda
Hours:8:30 to 17:00
Closed:No closing days
Admission:200 yen (each)
2000 yen (combination ticket that includes admission to the Kondo Hall, Daito Pagoda and various other sights on Koyasan)

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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 Garan:
japan-guide.com Rating:
  outstanding  
User Rating (by 122 users):
81/100
  recommended

Best rated sights nationwide (out of 764):
311.  Eiheiji Temple (Fukui)   82/100
312.  Yokaichi Old Town (Uchiko)   82/100
313.  Higashiyama Walk (Takayama)   82/100
314.  Lake Ashinoko (Hakone)   82/100
315.  Meigetsuin Temple (Kamakura)   81/100
316.  Garan (Mount Koya)   81/100
317.  Tenmangu Shrine (Dazaifu)   81/100
318.  Glover Garden (Nagasaki)   81/100
319.  Daishoin Temple (Hagi)   81/100
320.  Takao (Kyoto)   81/100
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293.  Chusonji Temple (Hiraizumi)   220
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295.  Kyu Shiba Rikyu (Tokyo)   219
296.  Confucian Shrine (Nagasaki)   217
297.  Sugamo (Tokyo)   217
298.  Garan (Mount Koya)   214
299.  Shin-Yakushiji (Nara)   213
300.  Matsue Castle (Matsue)   210
301.  Izumo Taisha (Matsue)   210
302.  21st Century Museum (Kanazawa)   209

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