Mt. Koya is a very important part of the World Heritage site “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountains”. Mt. Koya is in Wakayama Prefecture and I used to work for Wakayama Prefectural Government as a general manager of Cultural Heritage Division and I was also in charge of the World Heritage Project. I know this sacred mountain very well.
Nankai Koyasan Station or your temple in Mt. Koya
This 25m high wooden gate marks the official entrance to Mt. Koya. Stand inside are two big statues of Nio Buddha. They have scary faces. Who is Nio? Why does he look scary? I will explain.
Stand in Danjo Garan are Konpon Fundamental Pagoda, Golden Hall, Shintoism Shrine, Central Gate, West Pagoda, East Pagoda and other important facilities.
High Priest Kukai tried to express the world of mandala by arranging Konpon Fundamental Pagoda in the center and other important temples and pagodas around it. And expressed inside Konpon Fundamental Pagoda is a 3D mandala.
Mandala is a round picture which represents the universe in Buddhism. I always feel that I am a part of the universe at Danjo Garan. I will tell you why.
Kongobuji was named so by Kukai when it was constructed in 816. Nowadays the Koyasan Shingon sect of esoteric Buddhism has about 4000 affiliated temples throughout Japan and overseas and is headquartered here. Buddhist altar rooms and guest rooms in the temple are beautifully decorated and you can feel the profoundness of Buddhism arts. Many of the existing buildings are the reconstruction of 1862.
Mt. Koya is famous for its vegetarian cuisine which is very well known as “shojin ryori”. Sesame tofu which contains a lot of protein is one of the most famous shojin ryori in Mt. Koya.
At the end of the pilgrimage path, beyond the uncountable number of tomb stones, there is a mausoleum of Kukai. People believe that Kukai is still alive here to keep meditating. Why are there so many tombs here? Why does Kukai keep meditating at Okuno-in? I will explain.
Nankai Koyasan Station or your temple in Mt.Koya
Mount Koya is full of important, sacred, holly and picturesque places.
In this tour, we will visit three of the most sacred areas and you have some options.
First, we will visit Danjo Garan (Temple Complex).
Chumon (Central Gate), Kondo (Golden Hall), Konpon Daito (Fundamental Pagoda), Saito (West Pagoda) and other important building are located in this area.
High Priest Kukai, founder of Mount Koya tried to express the concept of the Universe here. I will explain how.
Then, we will visit Honzan.
Kongobuji Temple in this area is still used for important Buddhism rituals and as the headquarters of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism .
And a beautiful Japanese garden Banryu-tei (Dragon Garden) is in this area.
After visiting Honzan, we will make a pilgrimage in Okuno-in (Inner Sanctuary) to the mausoleum of High Priest Kukai.
People think High Priest Kukai is still alive in his mausoleum in Okuno-in to meditate.
And there are uncountable grave plots, gravestones, pagodas and stupas in this area.
I will explain why the High Priest Kukai still meditates there and why there are so many graves in Okuno-in.
During this tour, you have options to take Shojin Ryori (Buddhists’ Vegetarian) for lunch, to visit Reihokan Museum which houses numbers of national treasures or to experience a meditation at Kongobuji Temple.
Ask for details.
Between Namba Station and Koyasan JPY4,360 for round trip per person plus same amount for guide
Bus ride in Koyasan JPY840 per person plus same amount for guide
Lunch for guests and guide
Buddhists’ Vegetarian Lunch (syoji ryori)
As we will walk for more than two kilometers, comfortable shoes are recommended.
It is cooler in Koyasan than in Osaka by five degrees, be prepared for this cooler weather.
Tours are NOT covered by insurance. Make sure to be covered by your own insurance.
Transportation fare, entrance fees and lunch are NOT included in the guide fee.
Direct payment will be occurred in CASH on the spot on the day of the tour.
Bus ride in Koyasan JPY840 per person plus same amount for guide
Local Buddhists’ Vegetarian Lunch JPY2,000 plus same amount for guide
Our group of 3 had a fascinating day with Hiroyuki walking the shrines,temples and waterfall of Nachi. The relationship of Buddhism and Shintoism became much clearer to us. He was an expert in explaining the history and significance of the Kudo Kumano Pilgrimage. Additionally he picked a great restaurant for lunch and was very helpful in getting us settled at our hotel. I highly recommend him
First of all, thank you very much for coming to Japan in this kind of situation. I sincerely hope that you had enjoyed not only Kumano but also other places in Japan. It was my pleasure to explain about Shintoism and Buddhism Unite Theory in Kumano. Even in Japan, many of us do not know whether we are Shintoists or Buddhists. And thank you very much for writing such a kind review in the middle of your tour. I appreciate it very much. Say hello to Chris-san and Thomas-san. Looking forward to seeing you again in the future. Hiroyuki
I greatly enjoyed my trip to Koya-san with Hiroyuki-san. He is a fine and learned gentleman. He was happy to share his wisdom on esoteric Buddhism, it's concept of 'universe,' and the history of Koya-san, which added context and enhanced the experience. He was also happy to listen about the culture and practices of my country, making the experience mutually enriching. Koya-san is a mystical place. Hiroyuki-san made me appreciate its sacredness the moment we entered Daimon Gate, which is the starting point. Walking alongside Hiroyuki-san through its quiet streets, amidst light snowfall, visiting its snow-capped shrines and temples, and having warm tea and conversation with him, are memories I will treasure. As we left Koya-san and reentered the world below, I felt that I became a slightly better human being. Thank you, Hiroyuki-san, for this experience.
Daniel-san, Thank you very much for everything during the tour. I am very glad that you liked Koyasan very much. I myself enjoyed the tour and conversations with you. I learned a lot about Philippines and Philippine culture from you. As I am interested in culture and food, I googled cultural heritages and food in Philippine after going home. I found that they are very attractive. Especially, historic city of Vigan and sweets such as buko pie, ensaimada and halo halo attract me a lot. Thank you very much for such a great review. Your review encourages me a lot. Please keep in touch, I look forward to seeing you again. Arigato, Matane!
Hiroyuki was the absolute best, we are so grateful and happy that we booked him as our tour guide during our stay in Koyasan. Having just one day, we wanted to make sure that we saw the most important sites. He gave us such a thorough and full-circle tour of Koyasan. Before spending the day with Hiroyuki, I did not know much about Buddhism. And if I hadn’t had my tour with Hiroyuki, I would just be wandering around the beautiful sites that Koyasan has to offer, all without the beautiful meaning behind it all. He gave context and history to everything we were seeing.. Hiroyuki’s English is amazing, to say the least.. he is also so knowledgeable with Buddhism and the history of Koyasan, even down to the dates! He was very timely and made sure that we spent the right amount of time at all of the sites so that we could see the most, but at a relaxed pace. After the tour ended, he left us with an amazing packet of information that we have brought back to New York to remember this beautiful day in Koyasan. It was such a special experience to gain a friend in Hiroyuki, we will definitely be calling him for a tour in Koyasan or any of the areas where he has expertise. He was even so kind to send us amazing photos of us exploring. We absolutely cannot thank him enough...
Taylor san, How are you two doing? Thank you very much for posting such a great review and everything during the tour. I also enjoyed a lot in Koyasan. Arigatou gozaimashita. By the way, I have a friend who works at Kumamoto government. If you are interested in finding your relatives in Kumamoto,let me know. There might be something I can do for you for free. Thank you very much once again, I look forward to seeing you again. Matane! Hiroyuki
He crafted an itinerary specific to our desires, kept us on time, was very knowledgeable due to his foreign relations background, simply an elegant, educated, and kind man. I would very highly recommend him, and I’m planning on engaging his services again when we go on a longer trip to Osaka and Kyoto.
Claudio san, I was very lucky to have met such a nice couple like you as the first customer on TripleLights. And thank you very much for posting the great review and for everything during the tour. I showed you just a very small part of Osaka. There are a lot more to see in Osaka, Kyoto, Koyasan and Kumano. How about macha parfait in Kyoto next time? Please say hello to your family for me. Thank you very much once again. Looking forward to seeing you two again.