Travel Reports by Aaron Chong view profile of Aaron Chong

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May 30, 2019 - Matsue Horanenya - Horyuji and to Wakayama Prefecture

Horyuji Station

After a fun day out with my friend at Uji, it was time to continue using the JR Kansai Wide Pass and venture into a a prefecture that I'd never been to before, Wakayama Prefecture. Before heading out to Wakayama Prefecture, I made a stop in Nara Prefecture to visit a famous monument that missed out in my previous travels, Horyuji Temple. Horyuji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is believed to be the oldest wooden structure in world and was mentioned in my Japanese textbooks before.

From Uji, I took the regular JR service to Nara, transferred to the train bound for Osaka, and got off at Horyuji Station. After storing my backpack in the locker located near the turnstiles, I asked the information counter for advice on how to get to the temple. I was advised to walk there as it only takes 20 minutes on foot and I had to wait for about 30 minutes for the next bus to Horyuji Temple.

Unfortunately Nara does not have very appealing mascots in my opinion
Great south entrance to Horyuji

I eventually arrived at Horyuji Temple and took my time taking in the sights of Sai'in Garan, Toin Garan and the museum that housed many ancient Buddhist artifacts from the region. Some of the artifacts belonged to Prince Shotoku, the founder of Horyuji Temple.

Entrance to the temple complex cost JPY1500, which was quite steep in my opinion. Nevertheless, the temple complex was big and spread out and it was fascinating to imagine that people from a thousand years ago were able to construct such massive structures.

Fierce guardian guarding the entrance to Horyuji
Horyuji - Japan's first UNESCO World Heritage Site
Gojudo pagoda and Kondo Hall of Sai'in Garan
Tourists seeing what is inside the pagoda
The octagon-shaped pavilion of Saiendo
View of the pagoda from Saiendo
Toin Garan bell tower
Another octagonal structure: Yumedono
Schoolchildren coming to Horyuji for their field trip

After visiting all the sights in Horyuji Temple, I had lunch at a small soba/udon restaurant called Minori that I discovered while walking from the station to the temple. Since I had so much rice for the past few days, I decided to have a light warm soba and some doteyaki, a stew ubiquitous in the Kansai region made with beef tendons cooked in miso.

Lunch at Minori
Soba with bamboo shoots and doteyaki on the side
Soba noodle lift

After lunch, I took the bus back to Horyuji Station. There, I took the regular service bound for Osaka to Oji Station, and from Oji Station I transferred to another regular service to Takada Station. At Takada Station, I waited and got on the next local train bound for Wakayama City in Wakayama Prefecture.

Transfer to the Wakayama Line at Takada Station
Conductorless train bound for Wakayama
View of the Wakayama countryside
Arrival at Hashimoto Station

I got off at Hashimoto Station, the gateway to one of Wakayama Prefecture's most famous attractions, Koyasan, the birthplace of Shingon Buddhism and another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

At Hashimoto Station, I made my way to the adjacent Nankai Station to board the train all the way to Koyasan. The JR Kansai Wide Area Pass does not include the train between Hashimoto and Koyasan as it is a privately run line. I paid for the train separately with my Suica.

The train ride from Hashimoto to Koyasan was very scenic as it was an uphill track to Koyasan located on top of the mountain. The train reached its final stop at Gokurakubashi Station and from there, an immediate transfer to the cable car that goes all the way up to Koyasan was provided.

Next stop: Koyasan!
Transfer to the Nankai Line
A much nicer signboard at the Nankai platform
Regular service to Koyasan
View of mountainside villages from the train
Passing through the woods
Packed train bound for the opposite direction filled with Koyasan daytrippers
Next transfer at Gokurakubashi
The final stretch by cable car
Arrival at Koyasan Station!

I finally arrived at Koyasan Station and entered Koyasan for the first time!

My lodging for the night was a shukubo experience staying at a temple called Jimyoin. To get to Jimyoin, I took a bus bound for Okunoin from the Koyasan Cable Car Station and got off at Rengedani bus stop. At Jimyoin, I made new friends with a cute couple from Tokyo who happened to be staying at the place and had been riding the same train as me from Hashimoto.

After the tiring two-hour train journey from Horyuji, it was time for much needed rest and relaxation with a hot bath and vegetarian shojin-ryori for dinner.

Apparently French people love Koyasan
Koyasan bus
Jimyoin
My room with a view of the garden
Nice pond in the middle of the temple
Shojin Dinner
Aubergines braised in soya sauce

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List of Posts:
2019/05/31 - Matsue Horanenya - Koyasan
2019/05/30 - Matsue Horanenya - Horyuji and to Wakayama Prefecture
2019/05/29 - Matsue Horanenya - Uji
2019/05/28 - Matsue Horanenya - Amanohashidate
2019/05/27 - Matsue Horanenya - Tottori Sand Dunes
2019/05/26 - Matsue Horanenya - Kangyosai Ҍ
2019/05/25 - Matsue Horanenya - The World Heritage Sites of Hagi
2019/05/24 - Matsue Horanenya - Akiyoshido and Akiyoshidai
2019/05/23 - Matsue Horanenya - The Beluga Whales of AQUAS
2019/05/22 - Matsue Horanenya - Chunichisai
2019/05/21 - Matsue Horanenya - Matengai Cliff and the Kuniga Coast
2019/05/20 - Matsue Horanenya - Sakaiminato
2019/05/19 - Matsue Horanenya - Izumo Taisha
2019/05/18 - Matsue Horanenya - Togyosai n
2019/05/17 - Matsue Horanenya - Getting to Matsue from KIX
2016/07/15 - Hokkaido Day 14 - End of the Trip and My Top Five Highlights
2016/07/14 - Hokkaido Day 13 - Biei's Patchwork Road and the Blue Pond
2016/07/13 - Hokkaido Day 12 - The Lavender Fields of Furano
2016/07/12 - Hokkaido Day 11 - Usuyukiso Habitat and Peach Rock
2016/07/11 - Hokkaido Day 10 - Rebun's 4-Hour Trekking Course
2016/07/10 - Hokkaido Day 9 - Wakkanai, the Northernmost City of Japan
2016/07/09 - Hokkaido Day 8 - Journey to the North
2016/07/08 - Hokkaido Day 7 - Last Day in Shiretoko
2016/07/07 - Hokkaido Day 6 - Bear Watching Cruise and Rausu
2016/07/06 - Hokkaido Day 5 - Shiretoko Five Lakes
2016/07/05 - Hokkaido Day 4 - Obihiro Butadon and the Kushiro Norokko Train
2016/07/04 - Hokkaido Day 3 - Hell Valley and Heavenly Ramen
2016/07/03 - Hokkaido Day 2 - Yoichi and Otaru
2016/07/02 - Hokkaido Day 1 - Late Night Ramen Dinner
2015/05/02 - Hanami 2015 Day 6 - The Wisterias of Ashikaga Flower Park
2015/05/01 - Hanami 2015 Day 5 - Kakunodate and Long Winding Route to Aomori
2015/04/30 - Hanami 2015 Day 4 - The Lonely Sakura of Koiwai Farm
2015/04/29 - Hanami 2015 Day 3 - Matsushima and the Shiogamazakura
2015/04/28 - Hanami 2015 Day 2 - Hirosaki
2015/04/27 - Hanami 2015 Day 1 - Shibazakura in Chichibu