Mount Koya - Japan Travel Guide - Japanspecialist

Mount Koya

Japan's spiritual soul.

About Mount Koya
Mount Koya is a sacred mountain located south of Osaka. It takes about two hours to get up there, and the train journey up the mountain is a great experience in itself. Koyasan, as the mountain is called in Japanese, is the largest pilgrimage destination of Japanese Buddhism.

Temple accommodation with monks, meditation and food
Your experience begins on the train - a beautiful ride that takes you high, high up in the mountains. The views of vast expanses and waving bamboo trees are simply stunning. Spare a thought to the times before trains made the journey this easy. When Buddhist priest Kobo Daishi founded his temple here in 816, you had to walk all the way! The mountain houses several temples. Japanese temples are often very closed off to the public, but on Koyasan, you can go all the way inside and live in a temple with the monks. You get your own traditional room and eat delicious food. The food is vegetarian, is called shojin ryori and is a truly unique experience. You can also chant with the monks early in the morning.

Other attractions in Mount Koya
The most sacred place is the great burial ground Okunoin, where Kobo Daishi himself is buried. It is said that he is in a state of eternal meditation and thus still alive. Every day a monk brings food to his grave. Many important historical persons and companies also have burial sites here, including a coffee trader whose tombstone is shaped like a coffee cup! Explore the area and keep an eye out for the many henro (pilgrims) in traditional white clothing and straw hat and cane. In addition, there are a wealth of temples and many opportunities for Buddhist activities such as writing sutras or participating in meditation. Also, visit Koyasan's temple complex including the Garan and Kongobuji temples. It is easy to get around Koyasan by bus, which runs frequently and has good English signage.

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