The sacred ground of Japanese Buddhism created by the monk Kukai located in northern Wakayama Prefecture. Mt. Koya doesn’t refer to a single mountain but to a basin valley 1000m above sea level surrounded by a range of 8 mountains which extends for 6km east-west and 3km north-south with a topography which resembles a lotus blossom. Recognized as a World Heritage site in 2004, it received 3 stars in the Michelin Green Guide in 2009, following which it started to be visited by many tourists.
The 2 holy areas of Okunoin and Danjogaran are not to be missed. As well, the 2km sando path leading to the temple from Ichinohashi to Okunoin is also popular for the more-than-200,000 gravestones and ancient cedar trees which are more than a millennium old. Also, there is the grand head temple of Kongobu-ji which has Japan’s largest rock garden, the Reihokan Museum which has over 20,000 valuable artifacts on display including National Treasures, and the headquarters of the Daishi Organization where you can take part in Buddhist practices.
Vegetarian fare is customary on Mt. Koya. Sampling vegetarian meals only found on Mt. Koya which especially make use of seasonal local vegetables, tofu and wasabi horseradish, you can taste the cuisine in the temple lodgings or restaurants. Other recommendations include Koya dofu which takes its name from the region, namafu (wheat starch) manju buns, sasamaki anpu and other Japanese confections.
Taking the 2 hour and 30 minute ride on the Tokaido Shinkansen (Bullet Train) from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station, it is best then to take the train to Gokurakubashi Station via Namba Station. However, you can also make use of the Mt. Koya/World Heritage Site Ticket which has a discount on the entrance fee when taking the train and bus from Namba Station. Within Mt. Koya, you can get around by bus and cable car, but from Kudoyama Station which is 6 stations before Gokuraku Station, there is a 24km trekking course, Mt. Koya Choishi-michi, which is popular with tourists.
For accommodations on Mt. Koya, there are the lodgings offered at the temple. Within the area, there are 52 lodgings which feature vegetarian meals, guest rooms, bathrooms and gardens. There are also ryokan and hotels in the vicinity.