The following is a suggested 2-day itinerary for average-paced travelers which takes you through Koyasan, the center of Shingon Buddhism. Parts of the route, namely the Women Pilgrims Course, follow a nature trail, and proper walking shoes are recommended, especially during or after wet weather.

Day 1: Okunoin and Temple Lodging

Start at Koyasan Station
Take a bus bound for Okunoin and get off at Karukayado-mae
15 minutes
Karukayado-mae bus stop
Walk to Ichinohashi Bridge at the entrance of Okunoin
5 minutes
Okunoin Temple
Temple where Kobo Daishi is enshrined 2-3 hours
Okunoin is the site of the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism and an important figure in the religious history of Japan. The grounds contain a huge graveyard of those who want to be close to Kobo Daishi.
Walk back to Okunoin-mae bus stop
20 minutes
Head to your temple lodging in the town by bus or on foot
Temple Lodging
Overnight at a Buddhist temple
Stay overnight at a temple lodging (shukubo) and participate in the temple activities like meditation. Facilities at a shukubo tend to be simple, and meals served are vegetarian monks' cuisine (shojin ryori).

Day 2: Temples and a Pilgrimage Trail

Check out of the temple lodging after breakfast
Walk to Kongobuji Temple from your shukubo
Kongobuji Temple
Head monastery of the Shingon sect 45-60 minutes
Kongobuji Temple is a large temple where visitors can see exquisitely painted fusuma doors from the 16th and 17th centuries. The rock garden in the back of the temple is one of Japan's largest.
Walk to the Garan
5 minutes
Koyasan's central temple complex 45 minutes
The Garan consists of several buildings, of which the two most prominent ones are the Kondo Hall and the Konpon Daito Pagoda. Of note is also the Chumon Gate which was reconstructed recently.
Walk to the Daimon Gate
10 minutes
Daimon Gate
Large vermilion gate 5 minutes
A large, two-story tall gate that marks the traditional entrance to Koyasan.
Women Pilgrims Course
Hiking trail that was traditionally for women 60 minutes
The Women Pilgrims Course leads around the town of Koyasan and was built for women who were banned from entering the town before 1872. We walk the section from the Daimon Gate to the only surviving Nyonindo Hall, halls built for female pilgrims.
Take the bus from Nyonindo back to Koyasan Station
5 minutes