Top things to do

Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Kōya-san

Oku-no-in

One of Japan's most intensely spiritual places, Oku-no-in is a memorial hall to Kōbō Daishi surrounded by a vast, forested Buddhist cemetery. The tall cedars and thousands of peaked stone stupas along the stone path…
Top Choice Cafe in Kōya-san

Bononsha

Japanese, English and French are spoken by the delightful couple who own this charming cafe with great old wooden beams. It's a relaxing spot for coffees, organic mains, and sweets such as chocolate cake and tofu ch…
Buddhist Temple in Kōya-san

Kongōbu-ji

This sprawling temple 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; and the …
Buddhist Temple in Kōya-san

Garan

At the western end of central Kōya-san, this complex of eight principal buildings (temples, pagodas) and several other structures is one of Kōya-san's most important sites, along with Oku-no-in and Kongōbu-ji. Somet…
Buddhist Temple in Kōya-san

Konpon Daitō

Most recently rebuilt in 1934 after a fire, this 50m tall, bright-orange pagoda in the Garan is said to be the centre of the lotus-flower mandala formed by Kōya-san's eight mountains. The main object of worship is D…
Buddhist Temple in Kōya-san

Kondō

The Garan's kondō is the main hall and enshrines Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of medicine and healing. First constructed in the early 9th century, it was destroyed by fire six times; the current structure dates from 1…
Buddhist Temple in Kōya-san

Tōrō-dō

At the northern end of the Oku-no-in cemetery is the complex's main building, Tōrō-dō. It houses hundreds of lanterns donated by dignitaries, including emperors; two lanterns are believed to have been burning for mo…
Monument in Kōya-san

Kūkai Mausoleum

At the very end of the path through Oku-no-in, this is perhaps the holiest place in Japan. In front of the fence enclosing the mausoleum, you may well find pilgrims offering bouquets of flowers and chanting sutras.
Museum in Kōya-san

Reihōkan

The Treasure Museum has a compact display of Buddhist works of art, all collected in Kōya-san. There are some very fine statues, painted scrolls and mandalas.
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.