Mt. Koya, or Koyasan, is a complex of temples located in the Kii Mountain Range in Wakayama prefecture. Considered one of Japan's most sacred sites, it is a peaceful and serene mountain retreat. In 2004, UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site, and it has just been selected as one of twenty "Best of the World" destinations for 2015 National Geographic Traveler magazine's December 2014/January 2015 issue. (National Geographic Traveler is the travel arm of the National Geographic Society and is the world's most widely read travel magazine).
Koyasan, founded twelve centuries ago by the priest Kukai (posthumously named Kobo Daishi), is an active monastic center and the HQ of Shingon Buddhism. Visited by travelers from around the world, Koyasan warmly welcomes all, including pilgrims, novices, and the respectful curious. There are 52 temples that provide lodging (shukubo), and the accommodations are fastidious and comfortable. Temple monks take care of most daily chores, such as food preparation and serving, cleaning, room preparation, etc.
While staying at shukubo, visitors can participate in activities such as morning ceremony, sutra copying and meditation. Not all temples offer all activities, so please check with your shukubo to see what is available. For those who would like to enjoy the outdoor scenery, pilgrimage routes provide spectacular experiences. Audio guides as well as guided tours are available.
The beautiful temple buildings and grounds provide a tranquil respite from city life, and guests often come away with a renewed sense of energy and refreshed state of mind. It is little wonder that Koyasan has been elected to join the prestigious "Best of the World" for 2015!
Koyasan is easily accessible by public transportation and car from many major cities in the Kansai region including Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Nagoya.
For more information about Koyasan, please visit here.
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