Top things to do in Kōya-san

Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Kōya-san


Oku-no-in, whose name means 'inner sanctuary', is perhaps the most intensely spiritual place in Japan. At its farthest reaches is the Gobyō, the crypt that Shingon Buddhism founder Kōbō Daishi entered to began his e…
Top Choice Monument in Kōya-san


The wooden, thatched roof gate here is as far as you can go in Oku-no-in. Beyond it lies the crypt Kōbō Daishi entered in 835, never to leave. Pilgrims in a constant stream pause here to light incense and candles an…
Top Choice Cafe in Kōya-san


This chill spot – more Goa than rural Japan – with great wooden beams serves vegetarian dishes like tofu cheesecake that seem indulgent compared to temple food. Come after 11am for the daily lunch plate, only served…
Buddhist Temple in Kōya-san


The name of this temple, which is sometimes called Danjo Garan or Dai Garan, derives from the Sanskrit saṅghārāma, which means monastery. With eight principal buildings (temples, pagodas), the complex was the origin…
Buddhist Temple in Kōya-san

Konpon Daitō

The most interesting structure at the Garan is the Konpon Daitō, a 50m-tall, bright-vermilion pagoda seated at what is considered to be the centre of the lotus-flower mandala formed by Kōya-san's eight mountains. Th…
Cultural in Kōya-san

Rōsoku Matsuri

This captivating festival is held in remembrance of departed souls. Thousands of people come to light some 100,000 candles along the approaches to Oku-no-in.
Buddhist Temple in Kōya-san


This is the headquarters of the Shingon sect and the residence of Kōya-san's abbot. The main gate is the temple's oldest structure (1593); the present main hall dates from the 19th century. It's free to enter the gr…
Museum in Kōya-san


Several important artworks from Kōya-san's temples are collected here, most notably some Heian-era wooden sculptures of the Buddha and Fudō Myō-ō originally from Kongōbu-ji. Other works include scroll paintings depi…
Tofu in Kōya-san


Kadohama specialises in goma-dōfu (sesame tofu) prepared several ways. The lunch sets come beautifully presented in bamboo baskets with eight small dishes around a larger one – evoking the eight-lotus-petal symbolis…
Bridge in Kōya-san


This is the final bridge inside Oku-no-in before Kōbō Daishi's mausoleum. It crosses the Tama-gawa, which runs down from Yōryū-san, the mountain behind the Gobyō. It's customary to bow here, and from here on photogr…