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.

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.

Getting there and around

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

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 Kishi Station and 43 km from Matsushita Park. 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. The units are equipped with heating facilities. A bicycle rental service is available at the guest house. Jigenin Temple is 47 km from Guest House hachi hachi, while Subaru Hall is 48 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
      Located within 38 km of Kishi Station and 45 km of Matsushita Park, Koyasan Guest House Tommy provides rooms with air conditioning and a private bathroom in Koyasan. 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. The units are equipped with heating facilities. There is a coffee shop on-site. Subaru Hall is 47 km from the guest house, while Jigenin Temple is 49 km away. The nearest airport is Kansai International Airport, 61 km from Koyasan Guest House Tommy.
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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 Kishi Station and 44 km from Matsushita Park. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, full-day security and luggage storage space, along with free WiFi. Jigenin Temple is 47 km away and Subaru Hall is 48 km from the guest house. At the guest house, some units are soundproof. Naka Family Residence is 49 km from the guest house, while Itakiso Shrine is 44 km away. The nearest airport is Kansai International Airport, 60 km from Guest House Suzumeno Kakurembo.
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    • Sojiin
      Luxury
      Sojiin, located in the center of Mt. Koya, is a Japanese-style accommodation in a Buddhist temple located to the west of Sohonzan Kongobu-ji and in front of Danjo Garan. For dinner and breakfast, we offer gluten-free vegetarian cuisine. Sojiin is 42 km from Sakai. The nearest airport is Kansai International Airport, 40km from the property.
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    • Koyasan Shukubo Sainanin
      Budget-friendly
      Located in Koyasan, Koyasan Shukubo Sainanin is a historic temple approximately 1100 years old and located 300 metres from Daimon Gate. All rooms features tatami (woven-straw) flooring. The property has a hot spring bath with free toiletries. Guests can attend Buddhist morning services. There is a coffee shop on site. Kansai International Airport is 90 minutes by car from Koyasan Shukubo Sainanin.
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