History and Overview of Koyasan
Mount Koya or Koyasan is the nerve center of Shingon Buddhism, one of the largest Buddhist sects in the country that came to Japan from Kobo Daishi over 1200 years ago. Koyasan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, which attracts more Japanese and foreign visitors every day. And is that the opportunity to sleep in a Buddhist temple while visiting the area has a unique charm.
It was on Mount Koya where Kobo Daishi established his spiritual center building the complex of Danjo Garan temples and where, at his death, his mausoleum was created in the Okunoin cemetery. All this can be visited today, 1200 years later.
Then, more than a hundred temples were constructed here, among which the Kongobuji temple stands out, present center of the Shingon Buddhism. Also, the pilgrimage route of the 88 temples of Shikoku begins and ends here, which indicates the religious importance of Mount Koya nationally. Staying at Mount Koya is a unique and amazing experience that we highly recommend.
Things to do in Koyasan
There is a lot to see and do on Mount Koyasan because in addition to the main temples there are over a hundred temples scattered throughout the main streets of the compound. Thus, it is worthwhile to walk almost without direction fixed by all its central zone to enjoy the experience to the complete. Here are a few things you must do in Koyasan:
- Cross the majestic Daimon Gate rebuilt in 1705, traditional entrance to Mount Koya.
- See and learn more about the religion and cultural treasures of Mount Koya in the Reihokan museum.
- Stroll down Odawara Street, full of small shops and lots of temples.
- Between temple and temple, try one of the Koyasan specialties: yaki mochi or grilled rice pasta.
- Visit the Karyukayado Hall, made it in memory of Karukaya Doshin and Ishidomaru, who devoted themselves in body and soul to their ascetic formation.
- Until 1872 women were forbidden to pass beyond the Nyonindo temple, which is why there is a traditional pilgrimage route from here to the Okunoin cemetery (which you can see on the map and find explained below).
- Visit the mausoleum of the Tokugawa family, built in the 17th century by Tokugawa Iemitsu as an eternal resting place of the Tokugawa family (famous for being the family of shotguns throughout the Edo period).
- Visit Kongobuji Temple, the main temple of Shingon Buddhism, with magnificent paintings by Japanese artists decorating many of their rooms. It is especially recommended to enjoy the rock garden Banryutei, the largest of its kind in Japan and representing two dragons emerging from a sea of clouds.
Admire the beauty of the room of the Toronto lamps, in the main hall, with more than 10,000 lamps donated by ordinary people and are always lit. In fact, the legend says that the lamp Hinn-no-itto-donated by Oteru, a woman of few resources but who nonetheless gave this lamp directly to Kobo Daishi- and the lamp Shirakawa-to-donated by Emperor Shirakawa- They carry on without interruption thousand years.