Each of the temples has its own story. Kongobuji is in many ways the central monastery, home to ancient art and a magnificent rock garden which is said to represent two dragons in the clouds - as well as the kitchen which feeds everyone on Mount Koya. The religious centre however is Danjogaran, which features a large hall dating back to 819 and a dainty red pagoda considered to be one of the mountain’s oldest buildings. Dawn and dusk are ideal times to visit Kongosan-mai, commissioned by Hojo Masako, the wife of Genji leader Minamoto Yoritomo. In memory of her husband, she had the temple beautifully decorated with images of elephants, birds and lions.
Evening is also an atmospheric time to walk through Okunoin cemetery, where 200,000 tombs built over thousands of years lie in the shade of the cypress trees, connected by winding lamp-lit paths. You can also light a candle and make a wish in Lantern Hall, whose fires are said to have been burning since the 11th Century, and we recommend a visit to The Reihokan Museum for its collection of Buddhas, sculptures and art pieces.