Tours & Itineraries tours and itineraries Japan > wakayama > koyasan

Ultimate Itinerary: A Trip To Koyasan, Wakayama From Osaka

Ultimate Itinerary: A Trip To Koyasan, Wakayama From Osaka
Katie
Katie
Published

The extensive and historical site of Koyasan in Wakayama Prefecture has been the center of pilgrimage for over 1,200 years. In total, there are more than 2000 temples and buildings to explore. That’s right, we said 2000! Koyasan was a spiritual haven during the Edo era (1603 - 1868) and in 2004, many of these sites and the pilgrimage routes that people would take to the temples were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the bright bustling street of Osaka, Koyasan seems like a world away, but it is actually easily reached in just 90 minutes, making it an ideal day-trip during your stay in Osaka. With so much to see and do in the area, we think that some of you might be tempted to stay longer. Whether you’re planning a day trip or a full stay, read on to discover how you can get the most out of this magical and spiritual destination. Welcome to the ultimate itinerary for a trip to Koyasan in Wakayama, from Osaka.

How to get to Koyasan from Namba, Osaka


If you’re anything like us, you need simple and easy directions. We’re all prone to turning the map around once in a while. Luckily for you, getting to Koyasan from the main station of Nakai Namba in Osaka is fairly straightforward. We’d recommend taking the Nankai Koya Line Rapid Express to Hashimoto, which will get you to your destination in (exactly… because its Japan) 91 minutes. It’s worth noting that because it is a private railroad, your JR Pass, if you have one, won’t be accepted. Then change to the local train to Gokurakubashi Station, from here you can directly access the cable car to Koyasan. A word of warning - don’t exit the station, you don’t need to! The cable-car will take about five minutes to the mountain summit. After that, hop on a bus waiting outside the station and head to the main Senjuinbashi bus stop, which will take about 10 minutes.

Website: Osaka to Koyasan

Price: 6.45 USD (Train fare), 6.65 USD (Cable car), 3.65 USD (Bus)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in koyasan and also compare the prices with airbnbs in koyasan

Things to do in Koyasan, Wakayama

1. Stroll through the peaceful Okuno-in Cemetery & Okuno-in Temple


This sacred place is the final resting site of Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai), the founder of Shingon Buddhism. For many, it is believed that he is resting in meditation at Okuno-in. As such, it is one of the most sacred sites in Japan and many tourists and pilgrims visit each year. There are two routes to the Okuno-in, the traditional route is longer and crosses a beautiful bridge. The second route is shorter and easier to traverse. The cemetery is the largest in Japan with over 200,000 tombstones either side of the 2km (1.2mi) approach. Be sure to take part in the morning ritual at 6.30 am and stroll through the grounds. You’ll get to see a magical sight that other people can only dream of.

Okuno-in Cemetery & Okuno-in Temple

Address: Koyasan, Koya, Ito District, Wakayama 648-0211

Website: Okuno-in Cemetery & Okuno-in Temple

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: 4.65+USD

See our full list of recommended Hotels in koyasan and also compare the prices with airbnbs in koyasan

2. Discover Danjō-garan and learn about Kobo Daishi


Believed to be one of the first complexes built by the infamous Kobo Daishi, there are so many fantastic buildings on this complex it’s hard to pick the absolute ‘must-sees.’ One that stands out for many visitors is the bright red pagoda which can be seen throughout the town. Konpon Daito, known also as the “Great Pagoda” or “Great Stupa” stands at 49 meters (160 feet) tall. Uniquely, this building has been mostly destroyed and rebuilt five times, and the current structure dates to 1937. Another must-see spot is the main pavilion hall Kondo which still hosts regular religious events throughout the year.

Danjō-garan

Address: 152 Koyasan, 高野町 Koya, Ito District, Wakayama 648-0211

Website: Danjō-garan

Opening hours: 8.30am - 5pm (daily)

Price: Free

See our full list of recommended Hotels in koyasan and also compare the prices with airbnbs in koyasan

3. Complete a tour of Kongobuji


Just a quick two-minute walk from the Danjō-garan will take you to the site of Kongobuji. Originally built in 1593, Kongobuji is also known as “Temple of the Diamond Mountain Peak”. Guests can enjoy a self-guided tour around the three main buildings. We think that you’ll love the elegant style and sheer beauty of the Ohiroma room, which is still used to host important rituals. The images seen inside the room depict the flow of the seasons throughout the year. Slightly more gruesome is the Willow Room where Toyotomi Hidetsugu (a fuedal lords) allegedly committed suicide as part of a ritual. Not surprisingly, the room is also nicknamed the “Hidetsugu suicide room.” Finally, next to the site is the largest rock garden in Japan, called Banryutei Rock Garden, which was created in 1984.

Kongobuji

Address: 132 Koyasan, Koya, Ito District, Wakayama 648-0294

Website: Kongobuji

Opening hours: 8.30am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 4.65 USD (Kongobuji only), 13.95 USD (combination ticket)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in koyasan and also compare the prices with airbnbs in koyasan

4. Relish the art at Koyasan Reihōkan


This museum is home to thousands of important works of art. There is a permanent display and regular temporary exhibitions. The main entrance is styled as a replica of the Byodoin Temple in Uji. All of the works of art are religious in theme and include many different mediums, such as mandalas, paintings, and statues. The highlight is the scroll depicting the “Reclining Image of Sakyamuni Buddha on His Last Day”. It is an hour and 45 minutes from Osaka

Koyasan Reihōkan

Address: 306 Koyasan, Koya, Ito District, Wakayama 648-0211

Website: Koyasan Reihōkan

Opening hours: 8.30am - 5.30pm (daily)

Price: 5.58 USD (museum only) 13.95 USD (combination ticket)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in koyasan and also compare the prices with airbnbs in koyasan

5. Bow before the Gods at Daimon Gate

Daimon Gate is a large gateway that represents the entrance to the temple site. There are many pilgrimage trails around the site which were used in ancient times. Nowadays, people tend to simply take the cable car to the top of the mountain. This means that where once upon a time Daimon Gate marked the end of their pilgrimage, it now stands proud as the beginning of the temple site. The gate is lit up at night and is a beautiful beacon.

Daimon Gate

Address: Koyasan, 高野町 Koya, Ito District, Wakayama 648-0211

Website: Daimon Gate

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

See our full list of recommended Hotels in koyasan and also compare the prices with airbnbs in koyasan

6. Discover history on the Pilgrimage Trails

There are a number of trails up the mountain to the temple site. Most people tend to take a cable car up to the summit of the mountain but originally, pilgrims would take a long and (somewhat) arduous pilgrimage to the top of the mountain. The Fudozaka Trail starts at Gokurakubashi Station, is 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) long and will take, on average, about an hour to complete. The Women’s Pilgrimage Course leads around the main site of Koyasan and will take about 2.5 hours to complete. Finally, Kohechi Trail is the hardest route that will take a week.

Pilgrimage Trails

Website: Pilgrimage Trails

Opening hours: 8.30am - 5pm (daily)

Price: Free

See our full list of recommended Hotels in koyasan and also compare the prices with airbnbs in koyasan

7. Enjoy a Shojin Ryori meal

There are many unique and traditional vegetarian meals found on the complexes and surrounding areas. For religious regions, vegetarian food is the heart of this community and you can also enjoy a “Shojin Ryori” meal. Do some research before you depart to find which local Shukubo temple has a meal that you would like to try. This traditional style of cooking is primarily meant to represent the sense and flavors of the seasons. If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll be in food heaven and if you’re a dedicated meat-eater, we think you’ll be surprised by the depth and taste of these dishes.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in koyasan and also compare the prices with airbnbs in koyasan

8. Experience a temple-stay in Koyasan, Wakayama


For us, one of the best ways to enjoy the area; the sights, the food, and the atmosphere is to actually stay onsite. There are many beautiful temples that have created lodgings and opened their doors to the general public. This type of accommodation is called Shukubo. It is a fantastic way to become fully Immersed in the spirituality and uniqueness of Koyasan.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in koyasan and also compare the prices with airbnbs in koyasan

Temple Stays

Kumagaiji (from USD 111)

This stunning Buddhist temple offers the opportunity for guests to stay in a building that was built in 837. The temple serves only traditional vegetarian Shojin Ryori meals and guests will stay in peaceful and serene rooms. The bathrooms and toilets are shared. For those of you who still want modern amenities, free WiFi is offered in all rooms.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in koyasan and also compare the prices with airbnbs in koyasan

Shukubo Koya-san Eko-in Temple (from USD 111)

At this 1000-year-old Buddhist temple, you can stay and enjoy Japanese-style accommodations, vegetarian Shojin Ryori meals and take a stroll in the beautiful surroundings. Guests can enjoy the Buddhist morning services, fire rituals, and meditations. The rooms have modern amenities including WiFi and LCD televisions.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in koyasan and also compare the prices with airbnbs in koyasan

Travel tips

In order to get the latest information, and insider tips be sure to download a free application that merges tourist information and emergency notifications. Download it in advance or use one from the many free WiFi spots in the area.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in koyasan and also compare the prices with airbnbs in koyasan

Start your day early for a perfect trip to Koyasan

Koyasan in Wakayama is a perfect day trip from Osaka. You can enjoy the many spiritual sites, explore the World Heritage locations and try delicious vegetarian food. Be sure to head there early to get the most out of your day. If you want, you could even choose to stay in one of the many temple sites. Visiting Koyasan in Wakayama is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

800px daimon gate panoramio
Still Need Travel Insurance?

You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101

*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.

A full-time global wanderer and volunteer. Strong compass leading to random and remote pockets of Earth; exploring jungles, abandoned villages and the open seas. Passionate about documenting on my...Read more

Top 3 activities to book in koyasan

Have a question? Ask fellow travellers and travel experts here.
Explore koyasan
Good things are meant to be shared!