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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 133 users):
81/100
  recommended

Best rated sights nationwide (out of 802):
358.  Mampukuji Temple (Uji)   81/100
359.  Oboke Gorge (Iya Valley)   81/100
360.  Senjokaku (Miyajima)   81/100
361.  Yamaguchi Daijingu (Yamaguchi)   81/100
362.  Iya Valley (Iya Valley)   81/100
363.  Garan (Mount Koya)   81/100
364.  Zuisenji Temple (Kamakura)   81/100
365.  Shiroi Koibito Park (Sapporo)   81/100
366.  Former Castle Town (Hagi)   81/100
367.  Inuyama Castle (Inuyama)   81/100
Most visited sights nationwide (out of 928):
292.  Mazda Museum (Hiroshima)   245
293.  Kofukuji Temple (Nagasaki)   243
294.  Hot Springs (Fuji Five Lakes)   242
295.  Izumo Taisha (Matsue)   239
296.  Zuiganji Temple (Matsushima)   239
297.  Garan (Mount Koya)   238
298.  Shirahama Beach (Izu Peninsula)   238
299.  21st Century Museum (Kanazawa)   237
300.  Shin-Yakushiji (Nara)   235
301.  Tsuruga Castle (Aizu)   234

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