How to travel between Koyasan and Nara
Generally the fastest way to travel between Nara and Koyasan is via Osaka. From Nara take either the Kintetsu Nara Line to Namba Station (40 minutes by rapid express train, 560 yen, frequent departures) or the JR Yamatoji Line to Shin-Imamiya Station (35 minutes, 560 yen, frequent departures).
At Namba or Shin-Imamiya Station change to the Nankai Koya Line for Gokurakubashi Station. A few limited express trains operate directly to Gokurakubashi (80 minutes, 1650 yen, 4 trains/day). Otherwise take an express or rapid express train (100 minutes, 870 yen, departs every 10-30 minutes), most of which require a transfer at Hashimoto Station along the way.
At Gokurakubashi, transfer to the cablecar which travels up the mountain to Koyasan. The ride takes about five minutes and costs 390 yen. From the top station, it is a ten minute bus ride into the town center (290 yen to Senjuinbashi bus stop). Note that it is not permitted to walk along the street that connects the cablecar station with the town center.
Via the JR Wakayama Line
The more direct, but usually slower route along the JR Wakayama Line may be of interest to Japan Rail Pass holders. From JR Nara Station take a JR train along the Wakayama Line to Hashimoto Station (100 minutes, 1140 yen, one or two trains per hour). Some Wakayama bound trains travel directly from Nara to Hashimoto, while other connections require a transfer at Oji or Takada Stations. At Hashimoto Station, transfer to the Nankai Railways for Gokurakubashi (45 minutes, 440 yen, 1-2 departures per hour).
At Gokurakubashi, transfer to the cablecar which travels up the mountain to Koyasan and take a bus into the town center. The Japan Rail Pass is valid between Nara and Hashimoto, but it does not cover the train, cablecar and bus beyond Hashimoto.
Above fees and schedules are subject to change. For the current yen exchange rate, click here.
The temples of Koyasan form a small town on the wooded mountain, about 1000 meters above sea level. Most visitors arrive by cablecar to Koyasan Station, which is a ten minute bus or taxi ride from Koyasan's town center. Note that it is not permitted to walk along the street between the cablecar station and the town center.
The town of Koyasan is relatively flat and many of its attractions are easily explored on foot. Most of the sites, including the Garan, Kongobuji and the Reihokan Museum are located in the town center, a short walk away from the Senjuinbashi intersection. Among the main attractions, only Okunoin stands outside of the town center at the eastern end of the town. At the western end of the town stands Daimon Gate, the traditional point of entry to Koyasan.
Three bus routes serve the town: the main line connects Koyasan Station with Okunoin, a second line connects Koyasan Station with Daimon Gate, and a third line connects Daimon Gate with Okunoin. All bus lines pass the Senjuinbashi intersection at the center of town, where the Koyasan Tourist Information Center is located.
Koyasan Bus Network:
An excellent audio guide is available from the Koyasan Central Tourist Information Center for a 500 yen rental fee. The audio guide is provided in five languages (English, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and French) and may be checked out between 8:30 and 16:30 to be returned by the following morning. It offers detailed explanations about almost all the sites of interest on Koyasan.
Passes and Tickets
- Combination Ticket (1500 yen)
This ticket provides admission to virtually all points of interest on Koyasan, including Kongobuji, the Kondo Hall and Daito Pagoda at the Garan, the Reihokan Museum and the Tokugawa Mausoleum. It also entitles its holder to participate in a jukai service at Daishi Kyokai. The ticket is available at the Koyasan tourist information offices and can be used over multiple days.
- Koyasan World Heritage Ticket (2860 yen) - more details
The Koyasan World Heritage Ticket is available from Nankai Namba, Shin-Imamiya and Tengachaya Stations for 2780 yen and includes a round trip ticket from Osaka to Koyasan, unlimited bus travel within Koyasan town and discounted admission to Kongobuji, the Reihokan Museum and the Kondo Hall and Daito Pagoda at the Garan. The World Heritage Ticket is valid over two consecutive days.
- Kansai Thru Pass (4000 or 5200 yen) - more details
The Kansai Thru Pass may pay off if you visit Koyasan in combination with other places in the Kansai Region. Alternatively the pass can make sense to those who stay at Koyasan for more than two days, as the Koyasan World Heritage Ticket is only valid on two consecutive calendar days, while the Kansai Thru Pass can be used on non-consecutive days.
- 1-Day Bus Pass (830 yen)
A one day bus pass provides unlimited use of buses on Koyasan on one calendar day. It can be purchased at the upper station of the Koyasan Cablecar.