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Koyasan and around by Nankai Railway

Overnight at a temple

Mount Koya or Koyasan is the center of Japanese Shingon Buddhism and a sacred mountain. The religion was introduced to Japan in 806 by Kobo Daishi, who established his headquarters on Koyasan, and remains one of the largest Buddhist sects in the country. The secluded hilltop temple town is where the headquarters and numerous subtemples of Shingon Buddhism are located, and probably most famous of all, Koyasan is known to have the largest cemetery in Japan. Kobo Daishi is said to be in eternal meditation in his mausoleum on the mountain, and many of his followers chose to have their final resting places close to him, and thus the large and atmospheric cemetery was formed over the centuries.

Koyasan can be visited as a day trip to see the head temple, cemetery and the various important religious sites. But by far the biggest attraction on Koyasan is staying overnight in a temple lodging. Overnight guests can get to fully experience temple life through temple activities like attending temple rituals, sutra copying, meditation and eating Buddhist vegetarian cuisine as the monks who live on Koyasan do. Ancient hiking trails etched out by pilgrims of the past continue to be used by hikers and present-day pilgrims to Koyasan, and make for a nice way to see the town from a different perspective.

Koyasan is south of central Osaka and east of Kansai International Airport (KIX), the main international airport serving the Kansai Region. The mountain can be accessed from central Osaka by Nankai Railway in about 2 hours. A cable car provides access to the top of the mountain, and buses provide transportation from the Koyasan cable car station to the main sites on the mountaintop. Kansai International Airport (KIX) is directly connected to central Osaka by Nankai Railway.

The neighboring city of Sakai in southern Osaka is a good complement to a visit to Koyasan. Below is a list of suggested itineraries to Koyasan and Sakai. The city is famous for its connection to tea as the birthplace of Sen no Rikyu, the tea master who invented the tea ceremony as we know, traditional craft like knives, and ancient tombs, which were designated a World Heritage site in 2019.

Suggested itineraries