Mt. Koya - Wakayama

Located in Wakayama Prefecture in Japan, Mount Kōya (高野山, Kōya-san) is the collective name of the eight-peaked mountain in the prefecture which is said to resemble a lotus plant.

Mt. Koya

Mount Koya History

Mount Kōya was first settled by the monk Kukai in 819. Today, it serves as the world headquarters of the Kōyasan Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. You could also find the town of Koya in the 800-meter high valley in the mountain. The town has a university dedicated to religious studies. It also has 120 temples, many of which serve as lodging to pilgrims.

Mount Kōya (高野山 Kōya-san)
Mount Kōya (高野山 ,Kōya-san) - Wakayama Prefecture

Mt. Koya Map

The road up to Mt. Koya.

The town on Mt. Kōya

Places to see and visit in Mt. Koya:

Koyasan's Daimon

Dai Garan temple complex

Kongobuji Temple

Okunoin Cemetery

Kobo Daishi Gobyo

In 2004,  Mount Kōya, along with two other locations on the Kii Peninsula, Yoshino, and Omine; and Kumano Sanza, was designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites with the collective name "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range".

Team Nicerio visits Koyasan

I finally did my first snow angel.

Although Mount Kōya is part of my mountaineering adventures, I admit that I didn't hike up all the way to any of the eight peaks. We actually drove up to the town and did some pilgrimage to some of its famous temples. We visited Mount Kōya on the 23rd day of our 2014-2015 Japan Trip. The funny thing was, it was there that we experienced our first snow. I also got the chance to make my first snow angel and also had my first snowball fight.

Inside the Great Forest of Japanese Cedar

The mausoleums of Matsudaira Hideyasu and his mother

Overall, I enjoyed Mount Kōya not only for its old and historic structures but also for the memories that me and my family made in its beautiful town.

Mt. Koya Details:

Height: 800 m

Major Trailhead: Gokurakubashi Station (for cable car)

Climb time: 1-2 hours on foot from the trailhead. 1-hour drive (to town), 5 minutes by cable car.

Why hike or visit Mt. Koya?

Mt. Koya is one of those least visited destinations in Japan for foreign tourists. It offers not only historic sites to visit but also a chance for most to deepen their understanding of Japan's religion. For some, Mt. Koya also serves as a destination to visit if they want to be one with nature. I highly suggest a winter visit to fully appreciate the awesome black and white contrast of nature and man-made structures.

Mt. Koya Itinerary:

9AM - Departure from Namba Station by Koya 1 rail in Osaka Pref.
10:30AM - Arrival at Gukurakubashi Station 
10:40AM - Departure for Koyasan Station from Gukurakubashi Station by funicular.
10:45 AM - Arrival at Koyasan Station
10:45 AM Onwards - Tour Mt. Koya by bus or by foot... Follow the map below.

Mt. Koya bus routes

After the tour, you might want to choose to go back to your hotel or stay in one of Mt. Koya's temple inns. *

*I did not include the rates for the tour but if you're planning to visit this place prepare 30,000 Yen pax.

If you want a guided tour of Mt. Koya, here's a link to the rates and reservation fees- World Heritage Mt. Koya 1-Day Tour

Getting to Mt. Koya:

Ride the Nankai Electric Railway from Namba Station in Osaka to Gokurakubashi Station at the base of the mountain. Then ride a cable car going up the mountain. You could also drive up the mountain, however, take note that your tires should be able to run through slippery roads especially in the winter season.

If you are coming straight from Kansai International Airport, you might want to try this out.
Ride the Nankai Line from Kansai-Airport Station to Tengachaya Station. Board down and transfer to the Nankai-Limited Express and board down at Hashimoto Station. Board down again and transfer to the Nankai-Koya Line. Board down at Gokurakubashi Station. Go to Gokurakubashi Station Cable Line and board the Nankai Koyasan Cable to Koyasan Station. From there walk to Koyasan Station bus stop and ride bus #21 to Okunoin Mae bus stop.

Travel time: 3hrs  
Fare: 2900 yen

Overall rating


  1. This hike looks gorgeous with all the snow! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Beautiful photos. Such a colorful place with a gorgeous white blanket of snow makes me want to visit here.

    1. Thanks Anshul. I agree, the whiteness of the snow is really mesmerizing. However, I would love to see this place on autumn.

  3. nice informative post. You have mixed your pictures well with the maps and other information. Being in snow is wow! And I am sure, witnessing the first snow would be really special. I would like to read more posts like this

    1. Thanks so much Paresh! =) Thank you for the positive feedback.

  4. This seems to be a nice adventurous trip! Haven't been there but would love to after reading your post:)

    1. It sure is. =) Would love to see photos of your trip when you visit Mt. Koya. =)

  5. What an interesting read! I had no clue about this place but the photographs look divine and the place sounds awesome!

  6. This place looks so beautiful! Your pictures and description is stunning. I love how you added how to get there. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you for visiting my blog and for the positive feedback. =)

  7. The architectures of the town looks so historical! With all that snow, it's no wonder that you didn't hike up all the way to any of the eight peaks. Good read!

    1. The town really is historical. It is full of century old structures like temples and daimon gates. Someday I'd plan to hike that place. (fingers crossed) =)

  8. Wow this looks beautiful. I would love to go and visit one day. It is just so beautiful.

  9. Amazing place! I didn't know that there is such a place in Wakayama.

    1. Mt. Koya should be on your itinerary next time you visit Kansai.


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