World Heritage Site – Mt. Koya (Part 2) – Walking Around “Okunoin,” Mausoleum for Kobo Daishi
Wakayama Prefecture. After enjoying the autumn leaves at Kongobu-ji and enjoying sesame tofu and shojin-ryori for lunch, let’s continue on and walk around “Okunoin.” Okunoin hosts the graves of historical figures and daimyo from across the country, is filled with interestingly shaped graves and memorial towers, and is home to Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum.
In this second part, I’ll provide information on accessing Mt. Koya and some great value tickets.
※This article was written about a visit on November 13th, 2016. Please refer to it for planning your own trip!
Walking Around Okunoin
I got off the bus at the “Okunoin Entrance” bus stop and crossed “Ichi-no-Hashi,” a bridge marking the entrance to Okunoin, which was right off the stop. Next, I walked about 1.6 kilometers to Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum, where he’s said to still be meditating to this day. To get there, you take a direct path lined with tall trees, and “another dimension” spreads out before you.
This is the grave of famous military commander Date Masamune.
There are also many other famous commanders buried here. There are over 200,000 graves and memorial towers along both sides of the road leading up to Okunoin. This path seems to have been created some time from the late Heian period to the Kamakura period.
This is the grave of Ishida Mitsunari, who led the Western army in the “decisive” Battle of Sekigahara in 1600.
This is the grave of the same Akechi Mitsuhide who was responsible for the “Honno-ji Incident,” a rebellion at Honno-ji in 1582 that resulted in the suicide of Oda Nobunaga, who was staying at the temple.
Here’s a shot of “Naka-no-Hashi,” the mid-point for the trek to the mausoleum.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s gravesite is fairly large compared to the other graves.
Oda Nobunaga’s grave is located slightly off of the main path. It’s rather compact compared to Hideyoshi’s gravesite.
I made it to “Gobyo-bashi.” From this point onward, photography is prohibited. This area is where Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum is located. I took my time and had a proper visit to pay my respects.
The autumn leaves were at their absolute peak during this trip, so there were a lot of tourists around, but “Okunoin,” surrounded by enormous trees, still possessed an overwhelmingly unique atmosphere. The grave markers in the area are also not just for daimyo; there are ones for companies as well. For example, there’s a “Panasonic grave marker,” an animal memorial tower, a “termite grave” from the Japan Termite Control Association, and even rocket-shaped grave markers. There are so many different ones that I can’t begin to list them all. You can even stay overnight at local temples and shrines, so I’d love to visit Mt. Koya again. This was my first trip here, but I already have places I want to visit all over again!
Access and information on great value tickets!
How to Access Mt. Koya
When starting from Nankai Electric Railway Co.’s Osaka or Namba Stations, the trip takes about 80 minutes on the limited express “Koya” train to reach Gokurakubashi Station, the last stop on the Nankai Koya Line. At Gokurakubashi Station, switch over to the connecting cable car.
This green sightseeing train, “Tenku,” connects the midway stations Hashimoto Station and Gokurakubashi Station. The red train in the background of the photo is the limited express “Koya” train. Both have paid designated seating.
There is around a 330-meter altitude difference between Gokurakubashi Station and Koya Station. This cable car will scale that slope, steep even for Japan, in around 5 minutes. You can look out and see the colorful mountains.
At Mt. Koya Station, change over to the “Nankai Rinkan Bus,” which connects with the cable car. The trains, cable cars, and buses are essentially connected to each other, which makes them very convenient.
Next photo is of the Nankai Rinkan bus, stopped at the “Senjuinbashi” bus stop about 20 minutes away from Mt. Koya Station, that is outbound for “Okunoin-mae.” If you get off at this stop, you can visit Kongobu-ji and Konpon Daito.
★Information on great value tickets!★
When visiting Mt. Koya, I recommend the “Koyasan-World Heritage Ticket” from the Nankai Electric Railway. The round-trip discount ticket (includes cable car ticket) for Namba Station to Gokurakubashi Station or Mt. Koya Station also includes unlimited rides on the “Nankai Rinkan Bus” and discounts on local admission fees. If you add on a limited express ticket, you can also take the “Koya” and “Tenku” trains. This ticket is valid for 2 days, and you can even purchase it on the day of your trip♪