Top things to do

Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Kōya-san


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


Run by a delightful French-Japanese couple, this charming cafe with great old wooden beams is a relaxing spot for coffees and cakes like chocolate cake and tofu cheesecake. Daily lunch set menus are served until the…
Shokudō in Kōya-san


This convenient shokudō serves standards like katsu-don (fried pork cutlet over rice, ¥820) represented by plastic food models in the window. It's diagonally across from the Shukubō Association office on the main st…
Buddhist Temple in Kōya-san


In this temple complex of several halls and pagodas, the Dai-tō pagoda, rebuilt in 1934 after a fire, is said to be the centre of the lotus-flower mandala formed by the eight mountains around Kōya-san. The main obje…
Buddhist Temple in Kōya-san


This is the headquarters of the Shingon sect and the residence of Kōya-san's abbot. The present structure dates from the 19th century. The main hall's Ohiro-ma room has ornate screens painted by Kanō Tanyu in the 16…
Monument in Kōya-san

Tokugawa Mausoleum

Built in 1643, the Tokugawa Mausoleum is actually two adjoining mausoleums in a clearing, of Tokugawa Ieyasu (on the right) and Tokugawa Hidetada (on the left), the first and second Tokugawa shoguns, respectively. T…
Museum in Kōya-san

Treasure Museum

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.
Buddhist Temple in Kōya-san


The Kondō (main hall) enshrines Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of medicine and healing. The current building was rebuilt in 1932.
Shokudō in Kōya-san


If after all that Buddhist vegetarian cooking you just need some meat, this mom-and-pop shop on the edge of town serves up an assortment of deep-fried goodness: the namesake tonkatsu (pork cutlet), chicken, grilled …
Cultural in Kōya-san

Aoba Matsuri

Held on 15 June to celebrate the birth of Kōbō Daishi. Various traditional ceremonies are performed at the temples around town.