A spiritual experience at Japan's most important Buddhist retreat
The mountains of Wakayama prefecture, about an hour and half south of Osaka, hold a remarkable religious site. Located in a valley at an elevation of 800 meters and surrounded by eight peaks said to symbolize a lotus blossom, Koyasan is truly one of Japan's best hidden gems. Founded in 816, a small cluster of temples and monasteries grew in power over the centuries, and today remains Japan's most important Buddhist site. Koyasan's founding priest, Kobo Daishi, still inhabits a solemn mausoleum , and is said to be in "eternal meditation" in a mummified state until he will awaken to spread his teachings once again after 1200 years.
More than 120 temples are preserved at Koyasan, many of which offer lodging for guests and pilgrims. In fact, that's the only way to stay overnight at Koyasan! At each temple, various traditional activities like meditation, calligraphy, and temple crafts are available. Dine on traditional Buddhist vegetarian cuisine and witness morning prayers at sunrise. Explore Japan's most famous graveyard and hunt for the moss-covered tombs of famous samurais. Actually partake in a solemn initiation ritual rarely seen by outsiders. Witness seasonal religious events and festivals occurring almost monthly. At the end of the day, retire to your temple lodging to relax and take a dip in a traditional onsen hot spring bath. No matter what faith you practice, Koyasan will move and inspire you in ways you never dreamed possible before coming to Japan's holiest mountain.
A temple stay at Koyasan is a wonderful experience that you won't be able to replicate anywhere else in Japan. Foreign visitors are not a common sight at Koyasan, because choosing and booking temple lodgings can be difficult, as is making the necessary travel arrangements to reach the mountain. KyoTours offers an exclusive Koyasan tour package that will handle all booking and travel arrangements, as well as provide you with a fascinating tour that spans two days on the holy mountain.
Our Koyasan tours are not aimed at guests who just want to take some pics for facebook and rush through the place. Many of guests often have a personal interest in Japanese Buddhism, and want to experience the sacred site with a guide who can explain the details of what they are seeing. Shingon Buddhism is incredibly complex, and to actually experience it at Koysan is a once in a lifetime opportunity. KyoTours Japan believes that Koyasan is best experienced at a pace that allows for appreciation of the details of what you are seeing. We strive to make Koyasan more than just a location to be guided through, but a place that opens up a dialogue between guest and guide about the unique culture on display on the mountain. Because so much of Koyasan is difficult for visitors to grasp (including most Japanese tourists as well), it's important for visitors to have a guide who can place all the pieces into place and give you some perspective of what you're seeing and why it's important. Koyasan is more of a "big picture" kind of place than a collection of tourist spots. With KyoTours Japan, you have an incredible chance to experience a truly beautiful mountain belonging to a religion that is fairly secretive and misunderstood, so get ready for an enlightening adventure at Koyasan!
All of the pictures below were taken on KyoTours Japan tours of Koyasan. As you can see, it really is an amazing place!
For more info, read our blog entry about an overnight stay at Koyasan.
Because prices fluctuate depending on season and each temple lodging offers different experiences, we are unable to offer prices and schedules up front for this tour. Please contact us using the form at the bottom of this page or through our contact page to discuss scheduling, prices, and other information. KyoTours will work with you to craft a Koysan tour package that best suits your needs and interests.
- Please note that because of travel time, the Koyasan tour package is not available as a single day tour, and must be booked for at least 2 days and 1 night. Longer stays are possible as well.
- Early departure (7:00-8:00 am) from Kyoto is suggested to maximize our time at Koyasan.
- Lodging and meal fees will be included in the tour price.
- Because guests will be accompanied by a guide for the duration of the tour, the guide's lodging and meals will be included in the tour price. The guide will stay in the same lodging as the guest in a separate room less than or equal to the price of the guest's room.
- This tour package can begin and conclude at Kyoto and/or Osaka.
- Tour price includes transportation fees (train, bus, and ropeway) and temple admission fees.
- This tour may not operate all winter due to rail closures and unpredictable weather.
- Because of the elevation, Koyasan gets cold! Winter daytime temperatures can reach below freezing, so please pack accordingly. Temple lodgings are furnished with heaters and comfortable bedding.
- Itinerary subject to change due to seasonal changes in temple hours, special events, transportation delays, weather, or other factors. Guests will be kept informed of any itinerary changes as they occur on the day of the tour.
- Please read our terms and conditions for more information before booking.
To inquire about prices, scheduling, or request more info, please use the contact form below.