Mount Koya Information

Population: 4,000 (mainly monks)

Access: From Osaka (and, by extension, Kyoto) the Nankai Electric Railway gets you to Gokurakubashi, at the base of the mountain. This is involves a slow climb up into the mountains and it is an extremely scenic journey, if it's not snowing too hard outside. A cable car from Gokurakubashi then whisks you to the top, although there is then a bus required to take you the final leg. Train, cable car and bus schedules are well synchronised, so this all works better than it sounds. We'll provide timetables and more detailed (i.e. foolproof) instructions. Indeed, the journey here is part of the experience!

Highlights: Okunoin, the mausoleum of Kukai, lit by thousands of lanterns ans surrounded by an atmospheric and immense graveyard / staying in a shukubo / Kongōbu-ji Temple.

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Held sacred by the Japanese, Mount Koya has been the home of the Shingon Esoteric Buddhist Sect since the 9th Century. The monks here live a peaceful life, surrounded by over 100 storied temples and towering cedar forests, with the misty mountains of the Kii Peninsula beyond.

The opportunity to stay in a shukubo – a humble temple lodging – is a chance to follow in the footsteps of pilgrims and experience this peaceful place from the perspective of the monks; the lives they practice – imbued with meditation, wholesome food and temperance – are an example to people all over Japan. You can rise early and join the monks for prayer amidst a haze of incense, and spend your days exploring the temples and tombs that make the place so meditative.

Mount Koya is one of the most enriching places in Japan – the perfect antidote to non-stop cities – with mountain-top temples that are at their most beautiful in the snow.

Mount Koya Information

Population: 4,000 (mainly monks)

Access: From Osaka (and, by extension, Kyoto) the Nankai Electric Railway gets you to Gokurakubashi, at the base of the mountain. This is involves a slow climb up into the mountains and it is an extremely scenic journey, if it's not snowing too hard outside. A cable car from Gokurakubashi then whisks you to the top, although there is then a bus required to take you the final leg. Train, cable car and bus schedules are well synchronised, so this all works better than it sounds. We'll provide timetables and more detailed (i.e. foolproof) instructions. Indeed, the journey here is part of the experience!

Highlights: Okunoin, the mausoleum of Kukai, lit by thousands of lanterns ans surrounded by an atmospheric and immense graveyard / staying in a shukubo / Kongōbu-ji Temple.

Favourite hotels:

Suggested Itineraries