Mt. Koya
Wooden temples hidden among the trees, mist-covered mountains, smooth-headed monks in colorful robes--all the Buddhist film archetypes are alive on Mt. Koya. A deeply sacred place, central to the Shingon sect of Buddhism, Mt. Koya is also a World Heritage Site due to its more than 1000-year-old teaching and meditation sites.
Duration: 2-3 hours
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830 reviews
Very good

Tjasa C
137 contributions
May 2019
The mount Koya is the unique place with you must visit on your travel to Japan. There so many zen Buddhist temples which you can visit and stay there. Try just one night, which include vegetarian meals, meditations with monks,..
Written April 30, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Rbrt N
Brooklyn, NY18 contributions
Nov 2013 • Friends
I didn't go to Mount Koya the first time I went to Japan because of all the posts here. You had to take a train to a bus to a cable car to a bus, you had to stay overnight, you had to stay at a temple where it's $350 for a shared bathroom and you get up at 4 am, blah blah blah. Well, this is nonsense. We stayed in Osaka specifically to make a day trip to Mount Koya, and it was a highlight of our trip (if not my life). Getting there was easy: the transfers are quick and impossible to miss. The bus drops you at the unforgettable Ikuno-in, and from there it's a lovely, easy walk to other sites. We left after six or seven hours totally content. (Osaka was also pretty great: Dotonbori easily rivals Shibuya in excitement.)
Written February 7, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

15 contributions
May 2014 • Friends
Let me start by saying that visit to Koyasan is very much doable in one day. In fact, for a one day trip, it was very easy to pull it through. How-to steps at the end of this review.

We started the day with a limited express train from Osaka, which you can get from JR Namba Station 2F. No need to head for the information center which opens after 10AM, you can just buy your tickets from the ticketing office. Get the World Heritage Ticket as it covers all the travelling you need (train, cable car, bus) during your one day visit and in addition some discount vouchers for the trinket shops.

There are five or so limited express trains that go directly to the destination and choosing that makes sure that you don’t need to worry about changing trains during your way to Koyasan. 9AM train leaves you enough time but you can go earlier too if you wish.

The trip to Koyasan is pleasant, it takes about 90minutes and you can enjoy some beautiful scenery during your train ride. If you take the regular ride, it should take around 100min and there is a possibility that you need to change train at Hashimoto station.

Once at the final destination (Gokurakubashi station) you’ll take the cable car up to mount Koya. Don’t worry, you simply can’t miss it. Once there, there is a bus you take to Koya. You can’t miss that either.

At Koyasan we took our time and had peaceful stroll through the many sites and enjoyed a decent meal at a local restaurant. Not once there was a need to worry about the time-tables and we could focus enjoy the scenery to the fullest. We especially enjoyed walking at Okunoin (200 000 tombstones during 2km walk).

If you’re having a city vacation at Osaka, Koyasan gives you an opportunity to enjoy some great scenery and attractions you simply can't see at Osaka. Go there and enjoy it yourself. Our one-day visit was easily one of the highlights of my 10-day visit at Japan.

How to get there from Osaka:

1. Go to Osaka Namba Station
2. Buy the World Heritage Ticket
3. Take Limited Express train from Nankai Koya line to Gokurakubashi station (90min)
4. Take Cable Car to Mount Koya
5. Take a bus to Koya
6. Enjoy and behave!
7. Head back to Osaka
Written May 11, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Perth, Australia319 contributions
Dec 2015 • Couples
If you're debating whether or not to visit Koyasan on your Japan holiday, definitely do it - our night at a Buddhist temple here was the absolute highlight of our Japan trip.

Although we were originally nervous about a temple stay in winter, having read reviews of lodgings with tiny heaters and cold rooms, we decided to take the plunge and were so glad we did! Our temple was welcoming, cosy, warm, comfortable and a truly unique experience.

Getting There
You can purchase a Koyasan World Heritage ticket from Osaka station which is valid over 2 days and includes your return train trip (as the JR pass does not cover these trains), unlimited use of the buses at Koyasan and discounted admission to some of the tourist sites there. There's a standard ticket which is 2860 yen (AUD$35) or a limited express ticket which is 3400 yen (around AUD$40) although the type you choose may depend on the time you want to go and the availability of trains. We bought a standard ticket then had to upgrade on the way back to avoid a long wait at the station.

You take the Nankai-Koya line to Gokurakubashi (the terminus) with just one change in Hashimoto on the way. In Gokurakubashi, you switch to funicular which takes you to the top of the mountain where you pick up a bus to the centre of Koyasan. There are helpful staff when you get off the funicular asking which temple you're going to so that they can direct you to the correct bus. They also give you a map, and tell you which stop to get off at. It's really straightforward. All the temple signage is in Japanese though, so best to save a photo of the entrance of your temple on your phone so that you can identify it as there are LOTS of temples to choose from.

Temple Stays
If you're staying at a temple, you probably have quite a set schedule - check in between 3pm-5pm, an exquisite dinner is served in your room at 5.30pm, access to the onsen (if your temple has one) in the evening until 9pm then curfew is around 9pm or 10pm (but there's nothing to do in Koyasan at night so make the most of the time and relax in your cosy room). The following morning, you have the option of attending the 6.30am mediation/prayer ceremony then breakfast is served in your room at 7.30am. Check out is at 10am but the monks will mind your luggage while you explore.

Things to do
The absolute highlight of Koya-san is Okunoin which is a sprawling cemetery located in a tranquil cedar forest with the mausoleum of the Kobu Daishi (the founder of Shingon Buddhism) at the centre. In front of his mausoleum is Torodo Hall with more than 10,000 lanterns which are lit day and night (however the hall itself closes at 6pm).

There are other things to see in Koya-San - essentially temples and shrines which you pass if you take a walk to the Daimon Gate which will take maybe 30 minutes from the centre of town, or an hour from the mausoleum. If you have more time, there are hikes/pilgrimages too, but the stand-out is definitely Okunoin.
Written February 1, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sydney, Australia154 contributions
Oct 2017 • Solo
Definitely worth the visit if you have time. I made my way from Kyoto to Mt Koyasan and it was relatively straightforward. I managed to use a combination of Pasmo card and JR Pass all the way from Kyoto. I thoroughly recommend getting the Pasmo card as I found I could use it in Tokyo as well. It will make it much easier than buying different passes. The only time you can't use the Pasmo or JR pass is when you reach Koyasaan where you need cash to hop on the bus to take you into town.
My time there I found the least hectic as I could take my time wondering about. I stayed two nights in a monastery however I think this is more than enough time. Most people I spoke to on the trip stayed one night.
Note - my trip from Kyoto involved:

1. Kyoto - Osaka via JR pass
2. Osaka - Shin-Imamiya Station (take a local or JR pass(via the loop))
3. Change to non JR line for Shin-Imamiya Station to Gokurakubashi via Nankai Koya Line (can use Pasmo card)
4. Gokurakubashi take the cable car to Koyasaan Station. (can use Pasmo pass for this when you tap off at the top)
5. Catch a bus into town from Koyasaan. You will need cash as Pasmo will not work).

It seems like a real effort - however it is all worth it.

Some tips:

1. If you feel as though you are lost, the likelihood is that there will be fellow tourists who are heading that way so stick in a crowd with them.
2. Bring some munchies and a small plastic bag to put rubbish.
3. Get a Pasmo card for all your Japan trip. There are website which recommend one better than the other but in reality, Pasmo is just as widely accept as Suica. I travelled from Tokyo - Kanazawa - Kyoto - Mt Koya - Osaka and they all took Pasmo.
Written December 23, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

hfot2 🌸🍁🌸
Vermont7,325 contributions
Nov 2017 • Couples
Do visit Koyasan. It is worth the small hassle of getting.

Staying overnight in a temple lodging (shukubo) will give you plenty of time to see the sights. We stayed for three nights and were happy with that plan which gave us lots of time and included down-time for the one afternoon of rain when we could enjoy the beauty of the garden and small pond and bridge on which our room looked out. The rest of our time there was in glorious sunshine with lovely autumn colors.

For those of you concerned about travels to Koyasan with the train/cable car out of commission due to the typhoon damage, our trip from Namba to Koyasan and back in early November went like this (but do note that with things in flux, the situation may change as time progresses.)

The Nankai RR folks gave dire warnings about how long it would take to repair the line so this may be the new normal for a while. That being said, they also gave us dire warnings about how long the trip would take and nothing of the sort happened to us.

Going to Koyasan:
Twelve minute walk from our hotel to Namba Nankai station
Fuss with getting ¥1260 ticket for local train
Train departs at 7:49AM with very few passengers and very few of them looking like tourists
Arrive Hashimoto 8:28
A line of Nankai railway employees sluices us onto waiting bus
Driver informs everyone (in Japanese) bus will depart in about 10 minutes, so use the toilets now. We do
Bus departs 8:48
There are at least four vacant seats. A Japanese passenger gestures to one Western couple to put their large roll-aboard and medium backpack into an empty two-fer seat. We put one of our small cases into the same two-fer and one in an empty one-fer. Luggage was no problem but there were no overhead compartments for cases and no under bus storage space either.
Arrive Koyasan station (head of the cable car) at 10:06.

Final thoughts on the trip to Koyasan:

The elapsed time for the trip - 2:17. Nankai RR had warned us to expect it to take 4-6 hours with a 1-3 hour wait at Hashimoto.

It should be noted that it was raining lightly all day everywhere discouraging casual day trippers. But we think the principle factor in getting there quickly was our leaving very early. We will test that theory when we return a bit later in the morning for our return to Namba in 3 days hence.

A further note, the tourist information woman told us peak color happened the week before our arrival so the number of tourists might have been fewer

Returning from Koyasan to Namba:
Board Nankai local bus in Koyasan at stop 17 at 8:48AM, two minutes behind posted schedule.
Arrive at Koyasan Station (top of the funicular) by 8:58.
Directed by Nankai bus line personnel to a ticket sales agent in the station, where we buy two one way tickets to Namba Nankai Station @ ¥1260.
Queue up at 9:00 behind the couple that galloped off the bus using sharp elbows to be first in line.
We are soon allowed to board the bus. Unlike the bare-bones city bus that brought us up, this is a tour bus with comfortable reclining seats, little fold-away trays for food – and a luggage compartment below, with Nankai staff loading suitcases and backpacks and pretty much anything larger than a briefcase. The luggage racks on the bus are neither tall nor deep, and they are filled with very small suitcases and small backpacks. There is no toilet aboard.
The bus departs at 9:11. All the seats are taken, but there is no one left at the station to wait for the next bus.
Although the drive down is complicated by many private cars negotiating the winding road up, making the bus wait to take hairpin turns, we arrive at Hashimoto Station and begin debarking at 10:22. It has taken 1 hour and 11 minutes to get here, with no waiting at Koyasan Station for a bus.
The next train for Namba departs at 10:35, allowing plenty of time to use the restrooms and to get from A to B. In fact we sit on the train for several minutes waiting for the train to depart.
The train departs on time but runs a little slow, arriving at Namba Nankai Station at 11:32, about seven minutes behind the schedule posted on line.

Final thoughts on the trip from Koyasan to Namba:

The trip from Koyasan Station to Namba Nankai Station, which we were warned could take as much as 4-6 hours, has took us 2 hours and 21 minutes. In the days when one could take the cable car, the trip was supposed to take about 1 hour and 47 minutes.

Once again, the weather was foul at the start, but with a forecast for a better late morning and afternoon. It appeared to us that more day trippers were driving up to Koyasan than when we went up, on a day of continuous rain. It is doubtful whether the trip down could be done so quickly if the weather were good and the legendary traffic jams of people trying to get to Koyasan occurred.

And, once again, we left somewhat early, but late enough for a big busful of others to have the same idea. It appears the Nankai bus company have desperately called in all available buses to deal with the emergency situation. We lucked into a very large and comfortable tour bus. The somewhat smaller local buses, which were by far the majority of Nankai buses we saw, could probably not have accommodated as many people as were on our bus, leaving some to wait for the next bus, with the knock-on effect that eventually there would be a long wait for a bus.
Written December 17, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Lorena A
London, UK112 contributions
Dec 2014 • Couples
As my husband and I planned our trop to Japan, we had it as a must to go to Mount. Koya. We had heard that you could stay in a Buddhist temple, wake up to prayers, drums, and fire.. how exciting! So, we started doing the search on how to get there. Everywhere we looked, it said that you cannot do this trip on one day. Well, that is all not true - if you plan correctly, you can do this in one day and not have to stay at a temple.
if you are coming from Kyoto, you can take early (Like 6am) train fast train to Osaka train station, there, you can get on a cab and go to the train station that takes you to mount Koya (it is not the same as the one where you arrive from Kyoto). Once you get to the Osaka train station, you should get the Mount. Koya Passport (you will not see it advertised anywhere, so just make sure you ask for it). The passport will give you round way tickets on the express train to mount koya, tickets on the cable ride to get up to the mountain, and everything you need to go and come back. it's very hassle free. Make sure you get the Limited Express train tickets to and from Mount Koya; the limited express train takes about an hour to get to Mount Koya and it's a nice fast train with limited stops; the other train stops every 5 minutes and can take 2 or more hours. The ride on the train is very peaceful and you get to see Japanese life as you would imagine it in the movies... truly magical. Once you get to Mount Koya station, you'll get on a bus that will take you to the able cart that you must take to take you up to the mountain. once you are up in the mountain; you'll take another quick train to where all the temples are... everyone is friendly and although not everyone speaks English, everyone is nice and will help you out. this all sounds like a great ordeal, but it really isn't. in total, getting there from Osaka will take you 1.5 hours; from Kyoto, it could take you 2. we took the 8am Limited Express train to Koya and got to the top of the mountain by 9:30am. if you are staying at a temple, then you can go and lodge and then walk around; literally, the attractions to see are temples after temples after temples. if you are into Buddhism; this place is magical!!! truly is, you can learn a lot from every temple you walk into; they all have different stories. walking around the temples can take you 5 hours... but that's all there is to see... (the cemetery too if you wish you walk it)... so, if you are all in for seeing temples a full day and be done with it; then you can make the track back to Osaka... you can definitely do this in one day... it will be a loooooong day but doable in a day. If you are staying, then you'll get to experience the food the monks eat and the morning prayers.... but... don't expect much interaction with the monks... there are no drums, and there is no fire... just 5am prayer.. and then you are done. We stayed the night; and it was really cool to stay at a Buddhist temple... but honestly, I wish that for the money we payed, we could have interacted more with the monks or seen more about the life at the temple; but... nope... don't expect that if you are staying.
Written May 1, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Andrea W
Toronto, Canada194 contributions
Apr 2017 • Couples
We planned our trip to Japan around the cherry blossom season. When I first saw photos of Koyasan's Okunoin, I was interested but after reading it was filled with tombstones, I thought it wasn't such a good idea. But a few days before we were to depart for Japan, I decided I didn't want to miss out on this place, especially after reading all the great reviews about it. Overall, I am glad we visited and it was nice to see something different, but it wasn't a top highlight for me during our 23-day trip in Japan.


I didn't think Kanazawa was as interesting so removed it from our itinerary to make room for Koyasan. I tried to book an overnight stay at a temple in Koyasan but the dates I was looking at were all booked up or really expensive with mixed reviews. In the end, I decided to do only a day trip to Koyasan since I didn't feel like I had to experience the overnight temple stay.

It turned out to be a good idea that we didn't lock down a date to be at Koyasan and didn't have to spend more time there because we went to Koyasan on April 4th while we were waiting for the cherry blossoms to reach full bloom (they were unusually delayed) and there wasn't anything else interesting to me in the town except for Okunoin.


We left for Koyasan from Osaka's Namba station, which takes about 2 hours or less. We purchased the Koyasan World Heritage Ticket (regular version) for 2,860 yen, given that was the next train leaving from Namba station. The Limited Express version is 3,400 yen, and is slightly quicker. The ticket covers round-trip train rides and bus rides at Koyasan. My husband said we actually would have saved a bit if we didn't purchase the Koyasan World Heritage Ticket because we only took the bus two times while there for the day. We only took the bus when we got there and to get back to the cable car because the bus schedules were not frequent and the town was small enough to walk around.

Note, on the train to Koyasan station, sit on the right side for views.


Okunoin was the reason we came to Koyasan. We came on a sunny day in early April. The weather was beautiful and the sun peeking through the tall cedar trees made the place even more enchanting and photogenic. It was very peaceful, compared to the cherry blossom crowds we encountered during our trip in Japan. There was plenty of space for us to take photos without people in the way.

As soon as we got off the cable car, we got on the bus and got off at Okunoin-mae (last stop #14) to see Okunoin. We spent the morning exploring Okunoin. We walked back towards Ichinohashiguchi stop #10, passing by the Ichinohashi bridge, which I would recommend walking by once. Since we didn't know when the bus would arrive after waiting for awhile, we walked to the centre of town to find lunch which was a short 10-minute or so walk.

One thing that I expected before coming to Koyasan was that there would be more uphill walking because I imagined Okunoin being on a mountain but after the cable car ride, Okunoin trail itself is pretty much flat (as far as I can remember).


The town was quiet when we were there and quite a few shops were closed. We found a restaurant in the middle of town to eat lunch at. We walked by Kongobuji Temple without going inside the temple and then decided to head back as nothing else really interested us.
Written April 30, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Malcolm S.
Singapore, Singapore587 contributions
Jun 2014 • Couples
To come here, the best way would be to purchase the Koyasan-World Heritage Ticket for 2860yen which will allow you to take the Nankai railway and cable tram to mount koya. It will also allow you to take unlimited bus rides for two days at Mount Koya.

Do check out the transportation schedules for the the Trains, as the train runs less frequently as compared to the normal trains. Also note that most of the time, it requires a transfer or a stop-over at Hashimoto station, where the train would be broken up to smaller parts as the tracks starts to converge to a single lane.

Koya-san is a small town and you can visit most of the places by foot. However, from the train station at Koya-san, you have to take a bus to the town centre as walking along the roads are prohibited for pedestrians.

Do visit the cemetery, Okuno-in when at Koya and do definitely stay at one of the many temples that is opened to public. Most of the temples are pretty well-furnished and provide a good glimpse into the life of a monk. The food here is mostly vegetarian, and there isn't any convenient store open at night, so do try your best to enjoy vegetarian cuisine.
Written June 15, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sydney, Australia187 contributions
Jan 2013 • Family
We visited Koyasan for a day trip from Osaka in January, 2013.
I envy other reviewers who stayed overnight at one of the temple lodgings, but it is also an easy day trip.
In Osaka we bought Koyasan World Heritage Tickets at the Nankai Railway ticket counter at Namba Station. They were about (Australian)$32. This gives you the (about 1.5 hr) train trip to Gokurakubashi station, the (5min) spectacular cable car ride up to Koyasan, unlimited bus rides all day and all return journeys. As well, the ticket includes discount vouchers for some of the attractions and restaurants on Koyasan. The ticket is valid for two days, for those staying overnight. You also get a map and basic information about the attractions, so it is an easy day.
The village on the mountain-top is quite small and level. We rode on the bus into town and back to the cable car, but did not need the shuttles during the day. It was lovely to just walk about and soak up the peaceful atmosphere. It had been snowing, so it was a bit muddy and slippery in places, but the bus goes by regularly if you need it.
We specifically went to Koyasan to enjoy some vegetarian food. The temples serve veg food to guests, but the restaurants in the centre of town also serve vegetarian dishes as well as non-veg food. This was great for us because vegetarian food is hard to find in Japan. We chose Chuo Shokudo Sanbo for lunch after getting advice and directions from the tourist office. It was a fabulous meal.
The temples were lovely to visit, but walking through the huge and beautiful cemetery was the highlight of the day for us, along with lunch!
Written February 3, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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