A brand-new bus line will take travellers directly from Kyoto to Koyasan, the mountain-top monastic settlement nestled in the foothills of Wakayama Prefecture. The new bus line will make it easier than ever for travellers to Japan to access Koyasan as well as the world-famous Kumano Kodō pilgrimage trails.

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Oku-no-in Cemetery in Koyasan © James Gabriel Martin

Called the Kyoto-Koyasan line, the limousine bus will be operated by the Nankai Rinkan Bus and Keihan Bus company and will run for 66 days from Kyoto station to Koyasan Oku-no-in between the periods of September 20 to November 24 2019. By riding the bus, travellers can now avoid tricky transfers in Osaka or complicated train routes, and can go directly from one popular destination to another. There will be two departures per day, one in the morning and one in the early afternoon, taking approximately two hours and 40 minutes. Buses have 42 seats and include bathrooms on-board. The fare will cost 2,500 yen (approximately $20) each way and 4,500 yen (approximately $40) for a round trip.

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The new limousine buses that bring people directly to Koyasan from Kyoto © Visit Wakayama

Seats are non-reserved and are allocated on a first come, first serve basis. They can be purchased from the bus company ticket centre near the bus stop or on the bus. The route starts at Kyoto Station Hachijoguchi with an additional pickup at Highway Kyotanabe Bus Stop and drops travellers at Okunoin-mae in Koyasan.

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Kyoto has long been a favourite destination for tourists © James Gabriel Martin

A Unesco World Heritage Site named as part of the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range, today Koyasan has 117 temples, with approximately 50 of them catering to travellers wishing to stay to experience early morning Buddhist meditation and shōjin-ryōri, a cuisine that utilises seasonal vegetables, cereals, seaweed and edible wild plants found in the region.

Tourists can also explore the area and stops around Koyasan and Kumano Sanzan by special access bus that operates from Hongu Taisha-mae to Koyasan Station, with stops that include Kumanokodo Nakahechi Museum of Art and Ryujin Onsen. These buses operate daily between April 1 and November 30, 2019. 

More information on the Kyoto to Koyasan bus is available at Wakayama’s official website.

This article was produced in collaboration with Visit Wakayama and written to reflect Lonely Planet's policy of editorial independence and impartiality.

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