Koyasan sights

  • Koyasan

  • Day 3 – Exploring Koyasan

  • Accommodation: Muryoko-in temple, Koyasan

There’s a lot to see in Koyasan and you really need two-three days to try and see everything without rushing and include a hike. When I was living in Japan and working as a tour leader I came to Koyasan quite a few times so I’d done most of the touristy things but I had a whole day to explore so I revisited lots of sights.

I bought breakfast at the Family Mart so I was at the west end of Koyasan and my first stop was at the Daishi Kyokai centre to do something I’d never done before, sutra copying. It cost ¥100 and I was led to a room and given a calligraphy pen and paper with the sutra faintly printed on the paper. I think the point is to relax and almost meditate by concentrating and copying out the sutra. My old calligraphy teacher would be embarrassed by my writing but it was really difficult to copy the complex kanji characters with a pen that had a mind of its own! After spending an hour copying the sutra I opted for another new experience in the same centre and attended an Ojukai Buddhist ceremony – I was led to a hall with about 10 other people. We sat in the dark while the priests chanted, then we repeated the chants, repenting our past misdeeds and taking refuge in Buddha. Towards the end of the service the priests called our names one by one and we had to walk up a few steps in the dark to receive a certificate of the ceremony. It was an interesting morning. I then strolled around the Danjo Garan temple complex.

Next I visited the Konpon Daito great pagoda and Kongobuji temple.

I had a delicious lunch at a vegetarian restaurant in the main street called Bon on Shya then snacked on grilled mochi sweets as I walked along.

I love Japanese depictions of the Tanuki raccoon dog. I’ve mentioned Tanuki before somewhere in my blog but if you missed it, have a look at what they’re sitting on! Consider it a mini challenge when you visit Japan to photograph the tanuki with the largest balls! 😉

And then I was back at Okunoin cemetery which is just incredible and enormous and you could literally spend hours walking around it.

Jizo-in temple where I stayed the last two nights was full so I had to move one last time, and I booked into Muryoko-in where I stayed when I finished the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage. It’s a beautiful temple with stunning rooms, definitely the most beautiful room of my four nights here, but it also has paper thin walls!

8 responses to “Koyasan sights

  1. I have been following your pilgrimages in Japan and i thank you for sharing your photos and Experiences with us. I appreciate it so much. Wishing you all the best. Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Kat,
    Focusing on walking in your footsteps for a few weeks next month. The only guide book I can locate is KUMANO KODO by Hans Beumer.
    Have you read this or can you recommend another book. I have downloaded your trip notes which I will use, however I do like to have a hard copy of a book for cross reference.
    So look forward to your daily posts, I can smell the mountain air of Mount Koya. Safe travel. Gregory.


    • Lucky you, (it will be very hot/humid though). I did see that book at one of the places I stayed at and it seemed to be a journal of his trip. The most useful site is the Tanabe Tourist Office website, you can download maps, bus timetables, book accom and see sample itineraries. Drop me an email if you want more detailed info 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I definitely don’t like the heat as I copped that last August on the Portugese. I’m thinking about this Pilgrimage each day, so naturally excited. I normally like to have the first 2 nights pre booked and then take the walk one day at a time. Are there any public holidays in the two weeks of July? Always like to avoid these. Sorry I don’t have your email address so I hope you don’t mind my long winded ramblings. I’ll go the web site you have suggested. Your a gem, G


  3. Funny, I thought we might have beat you to KUMANO KODO, but looking to do it early autumn. We are finding the organizing more challenging and have even considered the self guided option… Whilst you have lived in Japan for a number of years and we are considering doing just the Nakahechi route, do you think we could manage as independent walkers with no language skills? We also thought we might combine it with the Nakasendo Trail as well.

    I have spent sometime on the Tanabe Tourist site and whilst the initiative is fantastic for independent walkers we have struggled to get it to work for bookings (which we found very complicated) and have to date just used it as a resource. Really enjoying the Blog and Photos (but looks like you are carrying around a Canon instead of the Sony – Didn’t notice really until I saw the metadata on one of your photo’s) Trust the knee holds up! All the best for the rest of the trip… Jenny and Stephen


    • Hi Stephen,
      I agree, it’s definitely more complicated than it should be. You don’t need a guide for the Nakahechi and it won’t be a problem not speaking Japanese but the biggest problem may be booking accom in Autumn because it’s a busy time of year. I know the Tanabe Tourist booking website was going through an overhaul so it should be getting better. The most common itinerary is:
      1. Tanabe to Tzugizakura (try to stay here and if not available then at Chikatsuyu)
      2. Tsugizakura to Hongu (can stay in Hongu or at any of the three Onsen resorts and take a bus to them)
      3. Kogumotori-goe from Hongu to Koguchi (OR the traditional boat from Hongu to Hayatama)
      4. Ogumotori-goe from Koguchi to Nachi)

      I usually wouldn’t recommend booking accom in advance but for this walk in autumn I think you may have to, and some places will already be full.

      There are three places to stay in Hongu so you could also base yourself here and take a bus each morning/afternoon and the bus system is easy to navigate.
      I took my Canon EOS 60D and wore it on a clip on my shoulder strap, it was heavy though!
      Email me: followingthearrows@hotmail.com for more detailed info.


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