Koyasan is a little sleepy town in the south of Osaka. It is home to ca. 115 temple and around 600 monks. Koyasan is known to be one of the most sacred places in whole Japan. With its spiritual vibe and its gorgeous nature, it’s simply an amazing destination for every Japan itinerary.
What to find out in this post
How to get to Koyasan
From Osaka Namba Station you can catch a train to Gokurakubashi several times a day. From there you can go on by cable car which brings you to Koyasan, which is located around 800 meters over sea level. I’d recommend you to chose the Koyasan ticket from Namba Station for 2860 (around 23 Euro) This one includes the whole roundtrip and a bus flat to go around Koyasan.
Where to stay in Koyasan
Many temples in Koyasan give you the possibility to stay overnight in the templegrounds. You can also try one of the vegetarian dishes offered in the temple.
Another option is to stay in the Kokuu Guest house. (Find prices and availability here) We chose the second option as it was much cheaper and many people said the experience of staying in the temples wasn’t worth the price because it became too touristy. Moreover, it was a good chance to try out one of the capsule hotels which are so famous for Japan. (There are normal rooms also for everyone that doesn’t feel like trying) Anyway, the capsule beds weren’t even that bad. (Besides the loudly snorting woman in the capsule next to me) Actually, they were pretty comfy. And there was definitely enough space. The staff (an Italian guy and his Japanese wife) are both super nice and you can have interesting conversations with them. You can also have free tea and water there.
The morning ceremony of the monks
Whether you stay in a temple or in the guest house. The morning ceremony of the monks in the Onkunoin temple is opened to everyone. It takes place every morning from 06-07 am. You don’t have to stay the whole hour though. Especially because you probably won’t understand a thing. You can join and leave whenever you feel like. But you might wanna stay near the door to not disturb the other visitors sitting near the monks. Might be common sense, I think.
We were listening to the relaxing singing of the monks for about half an hour. Then we decided to visit the lantern hall next door (Torodo). Still hearing the monks’ praying in the background you can go around the non illuminated hall full of shiny laterns. What a unique experience. This place is said to be one of the most sacred places of Japan. That’s why taking pictures is forbidden in that area.
In Koyasan, you can find the biggest graveyard in whole Japan. And this one is quite impressive. Not only due to its size. Surrounded by huge trees you find gravestones and statues of all kind. Especially at night and in the early morning hours I can recommend to walk around that graveyeard.
You almost won’t meet any other people besides some monks walking around. And you will be accompanied by a beautiful silence mixed with the croaking of the frogs and the singing of the birds. What a magical place. We just loved it.
Little advice: You might wanna bring a jacket. Especially in the early morning hours it can be pretty chilly there.
Besides the famous graveyard of Koyasan you can also enjoy a huge amount of temples.
You can get a map of the town und chose which ones to visit. Or you can just have a walk around. You will definitely come by some temples.
But don’t be surprised as most of the temples are already closing at 4 pm. Furthermore, many temples have an entrance fee.
As an alternative, you can as well check out the old pilgrim trail. But unfortunately we were running out of time, so we can’t tell you whether it is worth it.
Have you ever been to Koyasan? Or have you considered going? What are you most curious about? Let me know in the comments.
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