Mount Koya is a mountain monastery and home to the Kōyasan Shingon sect of Buddhism which was introduced to Japan in 805 by Kobo Daishi. The monastery has since developed into a small town which at its centre contains many temples built through the ages and representative of different eras in architecture. These are are still widely used by practicing monks today.

Almost 100 temples provide accommodation to tourists- these are working monasteries where you are expected to participate in morning prayers and share strict vegetarian meals. It was a fascinating glimpse into another life. Although I was pleased it was only for one night!

A mile long path through ancient woodland littered with tombs of those long forgotten lead to Kobo Daishi’s final resting spot and is considered the most sacred of all annual pilgrimages.

How to visit 

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Directions: From Osaka’s Namba or Shin-Imamiya Stations take the Nankai Koya Line from either station to the Gokurakubashi terminal station. My advice is to get an express train which may require a transfer at Hashimoto Station. Expect to be on the train for 1.5 hours. At Gokurakubashi, transfer to the cablecar for a very short ride up the mountainside to Koyasan. From the top grab the bus for a 10 minute journey into town. Note you are not allowed to walk from teh cable car to the station.