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Home - Travel - Sightseeing Guide - Kansai - Koyasan
Pilgrimage Trails
# 7   of 8 most visited
sights in Mount Koya

jump to:   access  -  admission  -  ratings  -  tours  -  links

Daimon Gate

As a popular pilgrimage destination for centuries, Koyasan has been connected to the outside world by a network of pilgrimage trails. While most visitors enter the mountain by cablecar these days, many of the pilgrimage trails still exist and remain in use by hikers who prefer the traditional approach.

The original main approach to Koyasan is along the Koyasan Choishi Michi trail, which begins at Kudoyama Station on the Nankai Koya Line. The trail is marked by stone signposts (choishi) which stand every few hundred meters along the path so that pilgrims can find their way. The markers are numbered (in kanji) in descending order with number one at Koyasan and are formed to represent the five Buddhist elements: earth, water, fire, air and void.

The entire Choishi Michi trail is about 23.5 kilometers long and takes around seven hours to hike. The trip may be shortened by two hours and four hours respectively by starting from the alternate trailheads at Kami-Kosawa or Kii-Hosokawa Stations. The hiking trail ends at the Daimon Gate, a two story tall, crimson gate that marks the traditional entrance to Koyasan, but the markers continue on to the Garan.

Stone trail marker along the Koyasan Choishi Michi trail

A less historic approach, the Fudozaka Trail, leads to Koyasan from Gokurakubashi Station, the lower station of the Koyasan Cablecar. The steep, paved trail is 2.5 kilometers long and takes about an hour to ascend. Considerably less to descend. The trail ends at the Fudozaka-guchi Nyonindo temple hall.

The Fudozaka-guchi Nyonindo is the only surviving of a total of seven Nyonindo (lit. "woman halls") built around Koyasan's perimeter. The halls used to cater to female visitors who were banned from entering the temple town before 1872. A trail, called the Women Pilgrims Course, leads around the perimeter of Koyasan from the Fudozaka-guchi Nyonindo past the ruins of the other Nyonindo to the entrance of Okunoin. It is about seven kilometers long and takes about 2.5 hours to hike.

A more challenging pilgrimage trail is the Kohechi Trail, part of the Kumano Kodo trail network, which connects Koyasan to the sacred shrines of Kumano. Be aware that it is a long and remote mountainous route that takes nearly a week to hike and requires proper planning and equipment to undertake.

Fudozaka-guchi Nyonindo

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.

How to get there
Daimon Gate stands at the western end of the town of Koyasan, about a 10-15 minute walk or short bus ride from the town center. Nyonindo is a 15-20 minute walk or five minute bus ride from the town center in direction of the cablecar station.

How to get to and around Koyasan

Hours and Fees
Daimon Gate
Hours:Always open
Closed:No closing days
Admission:Free

Nyonindo Hall
Hours:8:30 to 17:00
Closed:No closing days
Admission:Free

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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 Pilgrimage Trails:
japan-guide.com Rating:
  interesting  
User Rating (by 33 users):
88/100
  recommended

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English Links
Koyasan Walking Guide (Koyasan Tourist Association)
Walking guide with detailed maps.

Japanese Links
Koyasan Walking Guide (Koyasan Tourist Association)
Walking guide with detailed maps.

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Related Pages

News and Reports
November 8, 2012
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November 16, 2010

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