Day 2 – Nyoninmichi Loop, 15.5km
Accommodation: Jizo-in temple, Koyasan
I picked up a map of the Nyoninmichi loop trail from the Shukubo Tourist Office in the middle of town and after breakfast made my way to the start point at Nyonindo temple.
The map has the loop divided in two colour-coded sections:
The first section is called the Nyoninmichi pilgrimage course from Nyonindo hall to Okuno-in cemetery at Nakano-hashi, 6.9km / 3 hours
The second section is called the Koya Sanzan course and starts from Nakano-hashi at Okuno-in cemetery and finishes at Nyonindo hall to complete the loop, 8.6km / 3.5 hours
Before the Meiji period when women couldn’t enter Koyasan, there were 7 entrances to Koyasan and a temple was built at each of the entrances for women to stay and worship at. The temples were called ‘Nyonindo’ – meaning women’s temple or house and the women could travel around the outskirts of the mountain visiting each temple but not enter Koyasan. This is the origin of the Nyoninmichi loop trail but there is only one Nyonindo hall remaining and it’s the start point of the trail in the north-west of Koyasan.
If you’re short on time, then the first section from Nyonindo hall to Okuno-in cemetery would be my recommendation as this takes you along a nice stretch of trail, then past the Daimon large gate and to the cemetery where you could then spend a few more hours.
Or if you have time and really want to stretch your legs, continuing along the Koya Sanzan course means you will climb up and down three mountains in quick succession along steep short ascents and descents. Make sure you have a map with you, bear bell and water if you continue along this second section. The following pics are the signs on top of each of the three mountains along the Koya Sanzan section.