Mount Kōya

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Mount Koya)
Jump to: navigation, search
Mount Kōya
Danjogaran, the central point of Mt. Kōya.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Official name Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range
Location Wakayama Prefecture, Japan Edit this at Wikidata
Coordinates 34°12′45″N 135°35′11″E / 34.2125°N 135.58638888889°E / 34.2125; 135.58638888889
Criteria Cultural, Religious: ii, iii, iv, vi
Reference 1142
Inscription 2004 (28th Session)
Mount Kōya is located in Japan
Mount Kōya
Location of Mount Kōya

In everyday language Mount Kōya (高野山, Kōya-san) is the name of a huge temple settlement in Wakayama Prefecture to the south of Osaka. In the stricts sense, Kōya-san is the socalled "mountain name" sangō (山号) of the Kongōbu-Temple (Kongōbu-ji (金剛峯寺)), the ecclesiastical headquarters of the "Koyasan Shingon School".[1]

First settled in 819 by the monk Kūkai, Mt. Kōya is primarily known as the world headquarters of the Kōyasan Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. Located in an 800 m high valley amid the eight peaks of the mountain (which was the reason this location was selected, in that the terrain is supposed to resemble a lotus plant), the original monastery has grown into the town of Kōya, featuring a university dedicated to religious studies and 120 temples, many of which offer lodging to pilgrims. The mountain is home to the following famous sites:

  • Okunoin (奥の院), the mausoleum of Kūkai, surrounded by an immense graveyard (the largest in Japan)
  • Danjogaran (壇上伽藍), a heartland of Mt. Kōya. Garan[2] is a name for a area that has buildings, a Main hall, a pagoda, a scripture storage, a bell tower, a lecture hall, severals halls dedicated to important deities, a shrine dedicated to the Shintō-gods of Kōya-san and in front of it an assembly hall for special ceremonies. Danjō Garan is one of the two sacred spots around the Mount Kōya.[3]
    • Konpon Daitō (根本大塔), a pagoda that according to Shingon doctrine represents the central point of a mandala covering not only Mt. Kōya but all of Japan
  • Kongōbu-ji (金剛峯寺), the head temple of the Kōyasan Shingon Buddhism
  • Kōyasan chōishi-michi, the traditional route up the mountain
  • It also houses a replica of the Nestorian stele[4]
  • Daimon the main gate for Mount Kōya[5]

In 2004, UNESCO designated Mt. Kōya, along with two other locations on the Kii Peninsula, Yoshino and Omine; and Kumano Sanzan, as World Heritage Sites "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range".[6]

The complex includes a memorial hall and cemetery honoring Japanese who were imprisoned or executed for committing atrocities during World War II.[7]


Koya-san is accessible primarily by the Nankai Electric Railway from Namba Station (in Osaka) to Gokurakubashi Station at the base of the mountain. A cable car from Gokurakubashi then whisks visitors to the top in 5 minutes. The entire trip takes about 1.5 hours on an express train or 2 hours by non-express. Unfortunately, due to typhoon damage in fall 2017, the rail line only goes to Hashimoto, and a bus must be taken from there. The cable car is not currently running[8].

Local automobile traffic can be very heavy on weekends until well into the evening. On weekdays, however, the mountain offers a pleasant drive followed by the excitement upon reaching the monasteries lining the summit. Many Buddhist monasteries on the mountain function as hotels for visitors providing traditional accommodation with an evening meal and breakfast.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ As there are many temples with identical names, Chinese and Japanese temples are traditionally given additional "mountain names". These are no geographical designations. There is no mountain called Kōya-san in Japan.
  2. ^ Garan is an abbreviation of sōgyaranma (僧伽藍摩), skr. saMghaaraama सँघाराम), meaning "garden of monks". In Japan it was later used for central areas of big temples such as Kōya-san.
  3. ^ "About Mount Koya Danjo Garan - Mount Koya Travel Guide | Planetyze". Planetyze. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  4. ^ Keevak 2008, p. 125
  5. ^ "About Daimon - Mount Koya Travel Guide | Planetyze". Planetyze. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  6. ^ Hiragana Times, "Koyasan- A Sacred Tranquility", Volume #294, April 2011, pp. 34-37.
  7. ^ Victoria, Brian A., "Mount Koya sites exemplify ‘parallel universe’ where war criminals are martyrs", Japan Times, 5 August 2015
  8. ^

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Nicoloff, Philip L. (2008). Sacred Koyasan: A pilgrimage to the Mountain Temple of Saint Kōbō Daishi and the Great Sun Buddha. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-7259-0. 

Coordinates: 34°12′45″N 135°35′11″E / 34.21250°N 135.58639°E / 34.21250; 135.58639