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Okunoin (‰œ‚ฬ‰@) is the site of the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai), the founder of Shingon Buddhism and one of the most revered persons in the religious history of Japan. Instead of having died, Kobo Daishi is believed to rest in eternal meditation as he awaits Miroku Nyorai (Maihreya), the Buddha of the Future, and provides relief to those who ask for salvation in the meantime. Okunoin is one of the most sacred places in Japan and a popular pilgrimage spot.

The Ichinohashi Bridge (first bridge) marks the traditional entrance to Okunoin, and visitors should bow to pay respect to Kobo Daishi before crossing it. Across the bridge starts Okunoin's cemetery, the largest in Japan, with over 200,000 tombstones lining the almost two kilometer long approach to Kobo Daishi's mausoleum. Wishing to be close to Kobo Daishi in death to receive salvation, many people, including prominent monks and feudal lords, have had their tombstones erected here over the centuries.

A second, shorter approach to Okunoin, which is used by the majority of visitors these days, starts at the Okunoin-mae bus stop and cuts the walk to the mausoleum in half (to slightly under a kilometer). This alternative route leads through a more recent addition to the cemetery with modern tombstones by individuals, associations and companies, including some surprising ones, such as a pest control company's memorial to all the termites that their products have been exterminating.

Regardless of which approach you choose, both paths meet up at the Gokusho Offering Hall which lies near a row of statues depicting Jizo, a popular Bodhisattva that looks after children, travelers, and the souls of the deceased. Visitors make offerings and throw water at the statues, known as Mizumuke Jizo (Water Covered Jizo) to pray for departed family members.

The Gobyobashi Bridge crosses a stream behind the Mizumuke Jizo that separates the innermost grounds of the temple from the rest of Okunoin. Visitors should again bow to Kobo Daishi before crossing, and photography, food and drink are forbidden beyond this point. To the left of the bridge are a group of wooden markers placed in the stream as a memorial to unborn children.

A few meters past the bridge on the left side of the path lies the Miroku Stone, housed in a small cage. Visitors are challenged to lift the stone from the cage's lower platform to an upper platform with only one hand. It is believed that the stone feels lighter to good people and heavier to bad people, and that it can provide a connection to the Miroku Bodhisattva.

Torodo Hall (Hall of Lamps) is Okunoin's main hall for worship, built in front of Kobo Daishi's mausoleum. Inside the hall are more than 10,000 lanterns, which were donated by worshipers and are kept eternally lit. In the hall's basement are 50,000 tiny statues that have been donated to Okunoin on the occasion of the 1150th anniversary of Kobo Daishi's entrance into eternal meditation in 1984.

Behind Torodo Hall is Kobo Daishi's Mausoleum (Gobyo), the site of his eternal meditation. Visitors come from all over to pray to Kobo Daishi, and it is not uncommon to see pilgrims chanting sutras here.

Some guidebooks suggest visiting Okunoin's graveyard at night. A night time visit indeed provides a special atmosphere that is quite different from that of a day time visit, but note that some parts of the path are poorly lit. It is possible to venture all the way to the mausoleum during the night, but neither the Torodo Hall nor any of the the other offering halls are open. Also, please behave respectfully and keep in mind that photography, food and drink are prohibited beyond the Gobyobashi Bridge.

Getting there and around

The Ichinohashi Bridge is a 10-15 minute walk or short bus ride (140 yen) from the Senjuinbashi intersection at the town center. From the bus stop, it is about a two kilometer walk to the mausoleum along the traditional approach through the graveyard.

Okunoin-mae bus stop is the final stop of the main bus line that connects Okunoin with the town center (Senjuinbashi) and the cablecar station. The bus ride takes 20 minutes and 420 yen from the cablecar station or 10 minutes and 220 yen from the town center. There are 2-3 buses per hour. From the bus stop, it is about a one kilometer walk to the mausoleum through a newer part of the graveyard.

How to get to and around Koyasan

Hours and Fees

Torodo (Hall of Lanterns)

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Hotels around Mount Koya

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    • Guest House hachi hachi
      Budget-friendly
      Offering quiet street views, Guest House hachi hachi is an accommodation situated in Koyasan, 37 km from Tama Museum and 37 km from Kishi Station. The 1-star guest house has air-conditioned rooms with a shared bathroom and free WiFi. The accommodation features full-day security and luggage storage space for guests. At the guest house, each unit includes a desk. All units have a tatami. A bicycle rental service is available at the guest house. Matsushita Park is 43 km from Guest House hachi hachi, while Itakiso Shrine is 43 km from the property. The nearest airport is Kansai International Airport, 60 km from the accommodation.
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    • Koyasan Guest House Tommy
      Budget-friendly
      Featuring 1-star accommodation, Koyasan Guest House Tommy is located in Koyasan, 38 km from Tama Museum and 38 km from Kishi Station. Among the facilities at this property are luggage storage space and bicycle parking, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The guest house features family rooms. At the guest house, every unit has a desk, a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom, bed linen and towels. A fridge and kettle are also provided. There is a coffee shop on-site. Matsushita Park is 45 km from the guest house, while Itakiso Shrine is 45 km away. The nearest airport is Kansai International Airport, 61 km from Koyasan Guest House Tommy.
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    • ‚–์ŽR h–V ŒbŒ๕‰@ -Koyasan Syukubo Ekoin Temple-
      Mid-range
      A 1000 year-old Buddhist temple, Shukubo Koya-san Eko-in offers Japanese-style accommodation, a beautiful garden and free WiFi. Guests are free to attend Buddhist morning services, the Goma fire ritual and meditation. Rooms feature tatami-mat flooring, comfortable futon bedding and paper sliding screens. They are fitted with an LCD TV and a safe. Bathroom facilities are shared, and the public baths are open 16:00-22:00 and 06:00-09:00 daily. Shukubo Temple is close to other ancient Buddhist buildings such as Kongobu-ji Temple, which is a 10-minute walk. The Ichi-no-Hashi entrance to the ancient Okuno-In Temple is a 3-minute walk away. Guests can experience group meditation, and they can write Buddhist texts with a brush and ink on scrolls at their room. They can also go hiking in the scenic surroundings of Koya-san Eko-in. The temple has a lounge with a PC corner. Meals are served at the guest room at scheduled times and feature Buddhist vegetarian cuisine, and gluten-free meals can be requested at an additional fee. Groups of 4 or more persons dine at the Japanese-style dining room, where chairs can be provided upon advance request.
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    • ‚–์ŽR h–V •s“ฎ‰@ -Koyasan Shukubo Fudoin-
      Mid-range
      Offering a garden and garden view, ‚–์ŽR h–V •s“ฎ‰@ -Koyasan Shukubo Fudoin- is located in Koyasan, 39 km from Kishi Station and 45 km from Matsushita Park. Providing free private parking, the 3-star ryokan is 39 km from Tama Museum. The ryokan features family rooms. At the ryokan, all units come with a wardrobe. Every unit has air conditioning, a safety deposit box and a flat-screen TV, and certain units at the ryokan have a balcony. At the ryokan, the units include bed linen and towels. Itakiso Shrine is 45 km from the ryokan, while Jodo-ji Temple is 45 km away. The nearest airport is Kansai International Airport, 62 km from ‚–์ŽR h–V •s“ฎ‰@ -Koyasan Shukubo Fudoin-.
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    • ‚–์ŽR h–V —ด๒‰@ -Koyasan Shukubo Ryusenin-
      Mid-range
      Offering a garden and garden view, ‚–์ŽR h–V —ด๒‰@ -Koyasan Shukubo Ryusenin- is set in Koyasan, 39 km from Kishi Station and 45 km from Matsushita Park. Offering free private parking, the 3-star ryokan is 39 km from Tama Museum. Shipporyu-ji Temple is 46 km from the ryokan and Subaru Hall is 48 km away. Units are fitted with a shared bathroom with slippers. At the ryokan, the units have air conditioning and a flat-screen TV. Itakiso Shrine is 45 km from the ryokan, while Jodo-ji Temple is 45 km from the property. The nearest airport is Kansai International Airport, 62 km from ‚–์ŽR h–V —ด๒‰@ -Koyasan Shukubo Ryusenin-.
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    • ‚–์ŽR ^“c–V ˜@‰ุ’่‰@ -Koyasan Sanadabo Rengejoin-
      Luxury
      Situated in Koyasan and only 39 km from Tama Museum, ‚–์ŽR ^“c–V ˜@‰ุ’่‰@ -Koyasan Sanadabo Rengejoin- features accommodation with garden views, free WiFi and free private parking. The air-conditioned accommodation is 39 km from Kishi Station. The ryokan has a public bath and luggage storage space. There is a private bathroom with bidet in some units, along with bathrobes, slippers and a hair dryer. The ryokan offers an Asian or vegan breakfast. Guests can relax in the garden at the property. Matsushita Park is 46 km from ‚–์ŽR ^“c–V ˜@‰ุ’่‰@ -Koyasan Sanadabo Rengejoin-, while Itakiso Shrine is 46 km from the property. The nearest airport is Kansai International Airport, 62 km from the accommodation.
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    • Guest House Suzumeno Kakurembo
      Budget-friendly
      Featuring 2-star accommodation, Guest House Suzumeno Kakurembo is set in Koyasan, 37 km from Tama Museum and 37 km from Kishi Station. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, full-day security and luggage storage space, along with free WiFi. Matsushita Park is 44 km away and Itakiso Shrine is 44 km from the guest house. At the guest house, some units are soundproof. Jodo-ji Temple is 44 km from the guest house, while Shipporyu-ji Temple is 44 km away. The nearest airport is Kansai International Airport, 60 km from Guest House Suzumeno Kakurembo.
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    • ‚–์ŽR h–V ‘ๅ–พ‰ค‰@ -Koyasan Shukubo Daimyououin-
      Mid-range
      Featuring 3-star accommodation, ‚–์ŽR h–V ‘ๅ–พ‰ค‰@ -Koyasan Shukubo Daimyououin- is set in Koyasan, 39 km from Kishi Station and 45 km from Matsushita Park. The air-conditioned accommodation is 39 km from Tama Museum, and guests can benefit from private parking available on site and free WiFi. The ryokan features a public bath and full-day security. At the ryokan, the units are fitted with a tatami, a flat-screen TV, a shared bathroom, bed linen and towels. Guests can also relax in the garden. Itakiso Shrine is 45 km from the ryokan, while Jodo-ji Temple is 45 km away. The nearest airport is Kansai International Airport, 62 km from ‚–์ŽR h–V ‘ๅ–พ‰ค‰@ -Koyasan Shukubo Daimyououin-.
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    • ‚–์ŽR h–V ผ‘T‰@ -Koyasan Shukubo Saizenin-
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      Located in the sacred Koyasan area, Saizenin offers simple accommodation surrounded by mountains and many temples. Originally developed as a lodging for the templesf pilgrims, it conducts Buddhist services every morning that guests can attend. Nankai Koyasan Train Station is a 15-minute drive away. Fitted with tatami (woven-straw) flooring and traditional futon bedding, each room comes with a flat-screen TV and a seating area. A safety deposit box is also provided. The ‚–์ŽR h–V ผ‘T‰@ -Koyasan Shukubo Saizenin- features luggage storage and free parking. Kansai International Airport is 40 km away. Nankai Namba Train Station in Osaka is a 2-hour train ride from the proprety. Healthy vegetarian meals are served in the guest room or in the dining room for dinner and breakfast.
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    • ‚–์ŽR h–V ๗’r‰@ -Koyasan Shukubo Yochiin-
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      Located in the sacred Mount Koya area, ‚–์ŽR h–V ๗’r‰@ -Koyasan Shukubo Yochiin- is a historic temple and an accommodation for visitors. Just to the left of entering sanmon gate, there is a stone garden created by the famous Mirei Shigemori and designated a natural monument by the Japanese government. Guests can experience temple activities such as meditation, sutra copying and tracing of Buddhist deities at an additional charge, if reserved in advance. Guests can also participate in morning prayers, which do not require reservation. All rooms at ‚–์ŽR h–V ๗’r‰@ -Koyasan Shukubo Yochiin- are Japanese-style and feature tatami (woven-straw) floors. Traditional futon bedding, a TV, fan and heater are provided. Bathroom and toilet are shared with other guests. The spacious public baths feature a hot tub. On-site luggage storage is available. Guests with reservations that include a meal can enjoy delicately prepared homemade vegetarian meals featuring seasonal dishes. Convenience stores are located within a 3-minute walking distance from the property. It is a 10-minute walk from the famous Kongobuji Temple. Guests can visit the Buddhist temple, Danjogaran, just a 3-minute walk away.
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