Japan Diaries: Day 23

Day 23 January 10, 2015

Koya-san Day Tour

Good morning Japan! I woke up extra early today so that I'd be the first to prepare for our planned trip today. When everybody was ready, we left Kameyama residence heading to Wakayama Prefecture to the snowy mountain that Mr. Toshi told us about last night. 

Heading to Koyasan which is 22 km away

The mountain that I'm talking about is none other than Mt. Koya or Koyasan. According to Mr. Toshi, it is one of the most sacred mountains in Japan. Not to mention, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Here's my first tunnel experience in Japan!

The road up to the mountain is covered by snow.

As expected, there was little to no traffic at all during our drive to Mt. Koya. The weather was fine too but as a precaution Mr. Toshi had his tires changed to snow tires the day before. At first, I doubted that there would be snow on the mountain because we've been driving for several hours already and I didn't even catch a glimpse of any (It's winter! Where's the snow?). However, as we got closer to the mountain's peak, the sight of the snow-covered trees became a more common sight.

Koya's Daimon gate will be the first thing you'd see in Mt. Koya

A huge Daimon gate greeted us as we reached the peak and to my surprise, there was a town situated there too. It reminded me of Baguio City in the Philippines (minus the snow). I couldn't control myself though, I told my wife to take pictures of me as I make snow angels in the vicinity of the huge gate.

The Women's Pilgrimage Route up to the mountain

The Backpack Adventures visits Mt. Koya

... and got to make a snow angel!

Dai Garan

Snowball fight!!!

Dai Garan's pagoda

From the Daimon, our next stop is the temple complex known as Dai Garan. Upon reading the free tourist brochure, I found out that the Dai Garan was actually the central temple complex of Mt. Koya. In short, it is a very important religious (and historical site).


Ella enjoying the snow in the temple's vicinity

KC visits Kongobuji

Check out this frozen pond!

As usual, our godfather served as our awesome tour guide.

Off to our next destination - Kobodaishi Gobyo / Okunoin

Our next stop is Kongobuji. It is also one of the most historic, important, and religious sites in Mt. Koya. We got a chance to go inside the main temple and see up close its antique stuff and other important artifacts. 

Entrance to Kobodaishi Gobyo

The long walk begins

Mr. Toshi reading the details in the mausoleums

Going to the Great Cedar Forest

We then drove to our last destination which is the Kobodaishi Gobyo or Gobyo Mausoleum area. Before going to this vast cemetery, we had our late lunch at a nearby restaurant. upon entering the vicinity of the cemetery, you would notice the well-decorated mausoleums owned by different Japanese companies. While deep inside the cemetery vicinity is a sacred structure where the Holy monk named Kukai was said to be in eternal slumber/ meditation.

The Gobyo Mausoleum or Kukai's Mausoleum

Almost nighttime... driving home to Tsubasugaoka.

After going around the cemetery, we decided to drive home while there was still light. In that way, we could avoid driving on slippery snowy roads at night. And also so that we could go home and soak ourselves in the hot tub to relax our tired bodies. 

However, before we called it a night, we dined out at Kura Sushi Izumisano which is near Kameyama Residence. It is one of those famous conveyor belt sushi restaurants in Japan with plenty of branches spread out in the country.

Overall, our 23rd day in Japan was a very memorable one. For me, it was an extra pleasure walking around historical areas. Aside from that, who wouldn't enjoy the snow?

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  1. Is Koyasan a non-touristy/less-known place by foreigners?
    It seems very quite there, or maybe deserted.

    The Daimon Gate seen really majestic with its red colour and enormous size.
    And... I'm a bit curious about a small town at the peak..

    "It's not just about the destination, but the journey"


    1. Hi there! Koyasan is like a pearl. If you don't know about it you'd probably miss it.
      It's a very beautiful and quite place in Japan. Not to mention its a UNESCO World Heritage site.


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