Welcome to Kōya-san
Thickly forested Kōya-san (高野山) is nestled in the mountains of northern Wakayama Prefecture, surrounded by eight peaks (in Buddhist iconography it resembles the centre of a lotus flower, with the peaks forming the petals). It's home to a large monastic complex founded in the early 9th century and still very much a centre of worship for followers of the Shingon school of Esoteric Buddhism. For the less pious, the draws include the peaceful mountain setting, strolls past photogenic, moss-covered stone stupas and the chance to experience a taste of monastic life. While it's possible to visit Kōya-san as a day trip (most easily done from Osaka), part of the experience is staying in a shukubō. Keep in mind that Kōya-san tends to be around 7°C colder than Kansai's cities. Much of the town shuts down between December and February, though most temples stay open.