Recommended Routes & Itinerary tips to explore Koyasan (Mount Koya)
On this page, we introduce recommended sightseeing routes that efficiently tours major spots in Koyasan in one day or two days and 1night. Koyasan has a wide variety of sightseeing spots scattered over a large area, but if you focus on a particular point, you can either take a day trip to see major sights, or stay overnight in a Shukubo for a more in-depth tour. The following model course is also the official flow of worship. Depending on the time available for sightseeing, you may pick up the sights that interest you and plan your route accordingly. If time is limited, you can get an outline of Koyasan just by visiting the must-see spots labeled in red on the map below. The starting point is the Daimon (Great Gate / 大門) at the western end. Next, you will go through Danjo Garan, where the most important temple buildings are concentrated, and a little north of Danjo Garan, you will make a side trip to the World Heritage Site of the Tokugawake Reidai and other places before heading for Okuno-in(the inner sanctuary), where Kukai and the warlords of the Warring States period were located. It can be a historical walk back and forth between the Heian period, Edo period, Kamakura period, and Sengoku period. Table of Contents
Route 1: from Koyasan Station to Daimon
First, we will show you the route to Daimon, the starting point for sightseeing in Koyasan. This route is convenient for those who come to Koyasan by train (Nankai Koya Line) and Koyasan Cable. From Koyasan Station, take the Nankai Rinkan Bus on the Sente Daimon Line (Route 31 or 32). The bus destination is "Daimon-minami Parking Lot. If you plan to take the bus several times and do not have a combined rail and bus ticket, you may save a lot of money by buying a one-day free ticket in front of the station.
This bus will pass through the center of Koyasan. Since this is also the route that we will take later in the tour, it will serve as an orientation to get a feel for the atmosphere and distance of the religious city of Koyasan. Get off at the "Daimon" bus stop, one stop before the last stop.
Daimon (Great Gate / 大門)
Daimon is the main gate of Koyasan. If you have climbed Koyasan-choishimichi, the old main approach to Koyasan, or if you have driven on National Route 480, the Daimon gate will make you feel like you have finally arrived at Koyasan. For those coming by bus, in order to experience the feeling of "entering Koyasan from the front," it is recommended to go around along the roadway to the front instead of going directly to the Daimon from the "Daimon" stop. If you are coming by car, there is the "Otasuke Jizo-mae Parking Lot" and "Daimon Minami Parking Lot" a little to the south, but the "Atago No. 1 Parking Lot" a little to the east (inside the town) is almost the same distance, so it may be more convenient later to use that one if it is available at the time. All of these parking lots are free.
The Daimon gate is 25 meters high, an imposing vermilion-lacquered tower gate, and the Niou statues, dug in the Edo period, are also a must-see. You may also want to see the haiku monument standing in the plaza on the south side, or pass through the torii gate on the north side and stop by the "Dakeno Benzaiten Shrine" located a short walk up "Nyonin Michi" (Women's Path).
There is also a fine public restroom on the left, just past the large gate. Daimon Public Restroom(Wakayama Prefecture Official Tourist Site) Table of Contents
Route 2: from Daimon to Danjo Garan
After seeing the "Daimon," head to the Danjo Garan, the most important sacred site in Shingon Esoteric Buddhism.
It may seem like a main dish after soup, but this is fine because Koyasan was first established at Danjo Garan, and the religious city and Okuno-in(the inner sanctuary) were formed later. If you take the bus, get on at the "Daimon" stop and get off at the third stop, "Kondo-mae". However, it takes less than 10 minutes to walk from the Daimon to the entrance of the Danjo Garan, the Chumon Gate, as it is only a few hundred meters away. If you are driving, you can return to the parking lot once and drive to the parking lot south of the middle gate.
Danjo Garan (壇上伽藍)
Danjo Garan is a sacred place created by Kukai as a center for esoteric Buddhist practice. It is home to some of the most important buildings in Koyasan. The official route is to enter from the southern gate and walk clockwise around the temple.
Kukai designed Danjo Garan as a magnificent mandala to visually (not verbally) convey the essence of esoteric Buddhism. The following page provides a guide on how to experience this mandala in the order of the route of worship.
Route 3: from Danjo Garan to Koyasan Reihokan
After visiting and touring the Danjo Garan, you can enjoy the precious works of art at the museum.
After exiting the Chumon Gate, go to the Koyasan Reihokan located southeast of the Danjo Garan. Alternatively, you can exit the Danjo Garan from the southeast of the lotus pond (west of Kangakuin) and take a short cut.
Koyasan Reihokan (Sacred Treasure Hall / 高野山霊宝館)
Reihokan is a building that stores and exhibits Buddhist statues and paintings owned by Koyasan and is equivalent to a museum. The architecture, modeled after Byodoin Temple in Uji, was built at the time of its opening in the Taisho era (1912-1926). The Koyasan Reihokan houses 21 national treasures and 142 important cultural properties. All of them are of great historical and artistic value. The Buddhist statues by Unkei and Kaikei, calligraphy by Kukai and Minamoto no Yoshitsune, and portraits of Takeda Shingen and Oichi no Kata are especially well known.
Route 4: from Koyasan Daishi Church to Kongobuji Temple
North of the Koyasan Reihokan and east of the Danjo Garan is the Koyasan Daishi Church, where visitors can experience esoteric Buddhist training.
Pass by Daishi Church and head for Kongobuji Temple, the center of the Koyasan Shingon sect of Buddhism, via the "Six O'clock Bell" erected by Fukushima Masanori. Table of Contents
Koyasan Daishi Church (高野山大師教会)
Koyasan Daishi Church is the general headquarters for missionary activities of the Koyasan Shingon sect. The main lecture hall was built in 1925, and the main deity is Kobo Daishi. At the far end of the main lecture hall, the "Bodhisattva Ten Good Precepts" ceremony is held seven times a day for believers who are ordained in the temple.
At Koyasan Daishi Church, visitors can experience one-day ascetic practices and sutra copying.
Aka Jizo (Red Jizo Statue / 赤地蔵尊)
Turning the southeast corner of the Koyasan Daishi Church and heading north, you will see a shrine-like building on the left that is colored red. The entrance looks like a torii gate, but this is the Jizo Hall of Joki-in Temple. Enshrined in the hall are Aka Jizo, Mizukake Fudo, Kikimimi Jizo, and Sasuri Jizo. The main deity, Aka Jizo, is a lovely bright red all over, but this "vermilion" color has a special meaning for the history of Koyasan. For details, please refer to the section on the history of Niutsuhime Shrine and the "land transfer" to Kukai. Table of Contents
Rokuji no Kane (Six o'clock Bell / 六時の鐘)
On the stone wall northeast of the Daishi Church is a bell tower called the "Rokuji no Kane (Six o'clock Bell)".
This bell tower was built in 1618 by Fukushima Masanori to mourn his parents. The present bell was re-cast in 1640 by Masatoshi Fukushima, a son of Fukushima Masanori, and bears a rare inscription in mixed kana script. The bell still tolls the time every two hours.
Route 5: from Kongobuji Temple to Tokugawake Reidai(Tokugawa Family Mausoleum / 徳川家霊台)
After visiting Kongobuji Temple, the head temple of the Koyasan Shingon Sect, if you have time to spare, stop by the northern area of Koyasan. The northern area includes the Tokugawake Reidai(徳川家霊台 / Tokugawa Family Mausoleum), a World Heritage Site.
If you have limited time, such as for a day trip, it is recommended that you continue east to Okunoin (the Inner Sanctuary). There is no problem at all as an official visit to the temple, if you head to the northern area after Okuno-in(the inner sanctuary). The northern part of Koyasan is on the route between Koyasan Station and the center of Koyasan, so those who come to Koyasan by train, cable, or bus may want to stop by before taking the bus to Koyasan Station. On this page, we will show you a route that stops at the northern area first. Table of Contents
To the east of Rokuji no Kane (Six o'clock Bell), there is a path leading into Kongobuji Temple.
The name "Kongobuji" has two meanings. One is "Kongobuji" as a temple name meaning Koyasan as a whole, and the other is "Kongobuji" as the name of an individual temple. The former is used in historical stories up to the Edo period, while the latter is used in stories from the Meiji period onward to the present day. This is because "Kongobuji" was made the name of the temple that is the head temple of the Koyasan Shingon sect in the reorganization that accompanied the separation of Shinto and Buddhism in the Meiji era. Nevertheless, the Kongobuji Temple still owns the land in Koyasan, and the Kongobuji Temple Religious Office still manages various operations. Both in terms of religion and business, the temple serves as the central function of Koyasan. The site where Kongobuji Temple stands today is a valuable historical site. Originally, the mausoleum of "Shinnon," Kukai's successor (also known as his nephew) and the second head of the temple, was located here. In 1132, during the late Heian period, Kakuban (Kogyo Daishi), aiming to restore the Shingon sect, built the Daidenboin as a base for the esoteric Buddhism revolution. However, the revolution failed, and the Daidenboin was moved to Negoroji Temple. Then, in 1592 during the Azuchi-Momoyama period, Toyotomi Hideyoshi built a "shaved hair temple" for his mother. Later, the temple was renamed "Seigan-ji Temple." In 1595, Toyotomi Hideji, who was suspected of treason against Toyotomi Hideyoshi, was forced to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) at this Seigan-ji Temple. The present main shrine was rebuilt in 1863 at the end of the Edo period.
Tsunahiki Benten Shrine (綱引弁天社)
As you exit the east gate of Kongobuji Temple, you will see a roadway. This road leads north in the direction of the Tokugawake Reidai(Tokugawa Family Mausoleum), but let's take a short detour and stop at the Benten-sama to the south. This is Tsunahiki Benten, a small shrine located beside the Koyasan branch of Nanto Bank. Tsunahiki Benten Shrine is one of the "Seven Koya Benzaiten" enshrined at the time of Kukai's founding of Koyasan. Also called "Funabiki Benzaiten Shrine," it is believed to be the deity of good fortune and wisdom. Like other Benten, the name of this Tsunahiki Benten is thought to have been related to the "water source" or flow of water. During the time of Kukai, when the Danjo Garan was being built, boats were also used to transport lumber and goods, which were probably landed in this area. Although it is a small shrine, it is one of the places where one can recall the period when Koyasan was founded. Was "Tsunahiki Benten Shrine" a landing place for the construction of the Danjo Garan? Table of Contents
Kadode Benten Shrine (首途弁天社)
If you go north on the roadway on the east side of Kongobuji Temple, you will intersect a road with buses. This is near the "Koya Keisatsu-mae" bus stop. Shukubo "Fukuchiin" is located at the left end of this intersection, and another "Koya 7 Benten" is also enshrined in front of the gate of Fukuchiin (at the back of the parking lot). This is Kadode Benten Shrine. This Benten is said to fulfill prayers for travel safety. In Kukai's time, one of the water sources was located in this area, which may have also been the northern outlet of Koyasan. The deity is considered to be a secret Buddha. Kadode Benten Shrine conveys the duality of serpent worship. Table of Contents
Nanin and Namikiri Fudo (南院・波切不動尊）
If you go northwest along the bus route from "Kadode Benten Shrine", you will find a Shukubo called "Nanin" on the left (north side) before the "Namikirifudo-mae" bus stop. Nanin is the concluding temple of the "Kinki Sanjuroku(36) Fudo Sacred Site". The principal image is called "Namikiri Fudo Myoo," a famous Buddhist image from which the bus stop takes its name. "Namikiri Fudo Myoo" is a statue of Fudo Myoo said to have been carved by Kukai himself. When he returned to Japan from Tang China, he carved this statue from a sacred tree given to him by his master Keika, and installed it at the tip of his ship. It is like the bow of a Western sailing ship. Perhaps thanks to the blessing of this "Namikiri Fudo Myoo," the ship made smooth progress through the waves, and Kukai was able to return home safely. It was originally located in Sannoin in the Danjo Garan, but came to this Nanin during the Heian period (794-1185). The statue is opened on June 28 every year. The statue is registered as an Important Cultural Property as "Standing Wooden Fudo Myoo".
Route 6: from Tokugawake Reidai to Nyonindo
To reach the World Heritage Tokugawake Reidai(Tokugawa Family Mausoleum), take the side road to the north from the left side (northwest side) of "Nanin" where Namikiri Fudo is located, near the "Namikiri Fudo" stop.
After visiting Tokugawake Reidai(Tokugawa Family Mausoleum), return to the bus route and head to the northwest end of Koyasan, with Kanawa Park, where Kanawa Pagoda stands, on the left. Table of Contents
Tokugawake Reidai(Tokugawa Family Mausoleum / 徳川家霊台)
Tokugawake Reidai is a mausoleum dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu and Tokugawa Hidetada, the father and son who finally ended the Warring States period. During the Edo period (1603-1867), it served as the "Toshogu of the West," conveying the prestige of the Tokugawa shogunate to the western part of Japan. Adorned with glittering carvings using the most advanced decorative techniques of the time, it is registered as a World Heritage site as one of the most representative mausoleums built in the early modern period. On the right is the "Toshogu Tamaya (Toshogu Mausoleum)" enshrining Tokugawa Ieyasu, and on the left is the "Daitokuin Tamaya (Daitokuin Mausoleum)" enshrining Tokugawa Hidetada. The torii gate in front of the "Toshogu Tamaya" means that Tokugawa Ieyasu is enshrined as a god. This is the unique "Shinto and Buddhist syncretism" of Koyasan. While it has high artistic value as an architectural structure, historically speaking, it is a valuable historical site that conveys the relationship between the Edo shogunate, which strictly controlled religions, including Buddhism, and esoteric Buddhism.
Kanawa Park (金輪公園)
Further northwest along the bus route from Tokugawa Family Reidai, you will find a park called "Kanawa Park" on the left. The golden-ringed pagoda standing here is a treasured pagoda built by Meizan, a high priest of the Heian period (794-1185). Meizan is known as the originator of restoration of Koyasan, who built the Hall of Worship and other structures in Okuno-in (the Inner Sanctuary) Many of the Buddhist memorial services held today were initiated during Meizan's time. The present Konrin Pagoda was rebuilt in 1834 during the late Edo period. The main deity is enshrined as "Kinrin Buchoson". On the south side (left side) of the park is a shrine called Yogo Myojin. The Niu Myojin and Koya Daimyojin enshrined here are the guardian deities of Koyasan, which appear in the legend of Kukai's founding, and are the origin of the Koyasan faith. Nearby is the shrine of "Kishimojin". Kishimojin is an Indian goddess, "Hariti". She was a fearsome deity who gave birth to hundreds of children and would kidnap and eat other children in order to maintain enough energy to raise them. However, after being taught by the Buddha about the sorrow of a mother who has lost her child, she changed her mind and, contrary to what she had done before, became a Buddha who protects the safety of children. It is said that the Buddha even converted the gods. Indian deities, including this Kishi Mojin, were incorporated into Buddhism as Buddhas living in the "heavenly realm. The syncretism of indigenous religion and Buddhism was also practiced in early Buddhism era in India. In Japan, Kishi Mojin is often enshrined in Nichiren Shu temples as the guardian deity of the Lotus Sutra, and the Kishi Mojin Hall in Zoshigaya, Tokyo, is well known. It is also closely associated with esoteric Buddhism, and there is a Kishi Mojin at Jison-in in Kudoyama. Table of Contents
Nyonindo (Women's Hall)
Nyonindo (Women's Hall) was established for women during the period when Central Koyasan was closed to women.
Even though the women could not directly visit Kobo-Daishi's mausoleum in Okuno-in(the Inner Sanctuary), they visited Koyasan, a "forbidden mountain," to pray in a place as close as possible. They then holed up in Nyonindo (Women's Hall), the final destination for them, and chanted the mantra all night long. In the past, Nyonindo were located at each of the seven "Koya Shichikuchi" pilgrimage routes leading to Koyasan, and people would walk along Nyonindo to connect them and stay at the respective halls. There are several possible reasons why Kukai decreed that Koyasan be closed to women, but it is clear that it was not discrimination based on contempt for women. A closer look at the memorial pagoda in Okuno-in(the inner sanctuary) reveals that Koyasan was a special place for women, even more so than for men. For women up to the early modern period, Koyasan may have been a sacred place that was precious because it was unreachable. This is symbolized by Nyonindo (Women's Hall) and "Nyonin Michi" (Women's Path). The only building still standing is this women's hall on Kyo-kaido Road, but you can still walk along "Nyonin Michi" (Women's Path) to visit the remains of Nyonindo (Women's Hall). After the prohibition of women was lifted in 1872, Nyonindo was used as a resting place for visitors to Koyasan. If you take a bus from Koyasan Station, you will enter Koyasan from the side of this Nyonindo after passing through a bus-only road. Koyasan. In other words, for many visitors and tourists, this place has now become the main entrance to Koyasan, replacing the Daimon (Great Gate).
Route 7: from Nyonindo to Odawara Street
From Nyonindo, you can turn around on the same road and go back to the center of Koyasan. You can take a bus from the "Nyonindo" stop to the "Senjuin-bashi" stop at once, or you can stop at a Shukubo on the way to rest and enjoy Shojin Ryori (Japanese Buddhist vegetarian cuisine) before continuing on your way.
The next attraction is Takamuroin, a temple located on Odawara-dori, the main street of Koyasan. It is a Shukubo temple closely associated with the end of the Warring States Period. Table of Contents
Odawara-dori Street, which runs east to west from Kongobuji Temple to Okuno-in(the Inner Sanctuary) via Senjuinbashi in the center of Koyasan, is not only the main street of Koyasan, but also a "gourmet street" where many restaurants and souvenir shops are located.
If you are interested in the history of the Warring States period, take a look at Takamuroin, a Shukubo temple located just east of the Senjuin Bridge. Table of Contents
Takamuroin Temple was founded in the 12th century by priest Bokai, a descendant of Emperor Murakami. Since then, the temple has produced such high priests as Daisho Priestess (the 9th generation of Koyasan), who was said to be an incarnation of Tenkawa Benzaitennyo. In 1590 (Tensho 18) of the Azuchi-Momoyama period, Hojo Ujinao, the fifth generation of the Odawara Hojo clan, surrendered after Toyotomi Hideyoshi's conquest of Odawara. He was exiled to Koyasan. Takamuroin was the place where Ujinao Hojo resided. Since then, Takamuroin was also called "Odawara-bo" and became a Shukubo with close ties to the Kanto region. During the Meiji period (1868-1912), the temple merged with the neighboring Daijyoin and Hakkoin temples. The main hall was later destroyed by fire, and the current building was reconstructed in 1984.
Route 8: from Odawara Street to Kongosanmaiin
You can reach Okunoin(the Inner Sanctuary) by continuing west on Odawara Street. However, there is another temple a little to the south with important national treasures and world heritage sites, so be sure to take a side trip.
Kongosanmaiin is located at the end of a side road from the east side of Takamuroin and proceeding toward the south. This road is actually the Kumano Kodo Kohechi, one of the "Koya Pilgrimage Routes" designated as a World Heritage Site. The pilgrimage route from Koyasan to Kumano Sanzan begins here. At the second intersection, turn right and head southwest to continue on the "Kumano Kodo Kohechi," but to get to Kongosanmaiin, continue straight on this road as well, until you reach the end of the road. Table of Contents
Kongosanmaiin is a Shukubo temple located in a secluded area southeast of Koyasan University. It is one of the components of the World Heritage Site "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range". Each of the Shukubo temples in Koyasan has its own unique history, but this Kongosanmaiin is exceptional among them. It is safe to say that the Kamakura period of Koyasan is condensed here.
Route 9: from Kongosanmaiin to Fudoin
Once you have finished sightseeing at Kongosanmaiin, return to Odawara-dori. You may take the same route north as you came, or you may take a short cut from the branch with "Kumano Kodo Kohechi". The map below shows the route to take the shortcut. Go northeast, opposite to Kumano Kodo Kohechi.
Climbing up the hill from this branch area, you will find "Maruyama Benten," one of the seven Koya Benzaiten temples. After returning to Odawara Street, the next attraction is a temple called Fudoin. Here, you will find a very important historical site in terms of Koyasan's relationship with women. Table of Contents
Maruyama Benten Shrine (圓山弁天社)
Maruyama Benten Shrine is one of the "the seven Benzaiten temples of Koyasan," a place of worship associated with Kukai's founding of Koyasan and a guardian deity of water sources. This area is called the "South Odawara area," and Maruyama Benten Shrine is located at the center of the area, on an oval-shaped hill called Maruyama. To visit here, take the branch north of Kongosamaiin, opposite the Kumano Kodo Kohechi (turn right if coming from Kongosamaiin), and climb up the stairs next to the first house on the left (north side). The deities here are Benzaiten, a heavenly maiden of water and fertility, and fifteen children who serve Benzaiten. All of them are said to have been summoned to Koyasan by Kukai. Maruyama Benten Shrine, which conveys Japan's unique "15-dozen child faith" Table of Contents
Fudoin & Bifukumonin Mausoleum (不動院・美福門院陵)
After returning to Odawara-dori, go east a little and take a detour, heading south again past the "Rengedani" stop. At the end of the street is a quiet Shukubo temple called "Fudoin". The main deity of Fudoin is Fudo Myoo, said to have been carved by Kobo Daishi (Kukai), and the temple is opened once every 100 years. The temple is also highly regarded as a Shukubo. Within the grounds of Fudoin is the mausoleum of a woman named Fujiwara no Tokushi (or Fujiwara no Nariko), who was the wife of the Monk-Emperor Toba. Fujiwara no Tokushi is also known by the name Bifukumonin. The Hogen Rebellion (1156) marked the end of aristocratic rule and the beginning of 700 years of samurai rule. Two women, "Taikenmonin" and "Bifukumonin," were responsible for this rebellion, but it was Bifukumonin who took the initiative and emerged the victor. Bifukumonin's influence on history does not stop there. The main reason for the victory of the Heiji Disturbance (1160) was that a faction of Bifukumonin and others sided with Taira no Kiyomori. Even after Bifukumonin's death, the warriors (mainly Ashikaga) of the Hachijoin fiefdom, which Bifukumonin had left behind, played a major role in the raising of an army by Prince Mochihito, the overthrow of the Taira clan by Kiso Yoshinaka, and the overthrow of the Kamakura shogunate by Emperor Godaigo. Bifukumonin, who had strong feelings for Koyasan, strongly desired to be buried there, even against the wishes of Retired Emperor Toba, who said, "Sleep in the same place as I do." As a result, Bifukumonin's mausoleum was built at Fudoin. Koyasan became a "Pure Land" for women, where they could go after their death, even if it was not possible during their lifetime, and memorial towers for women were erected one after another in Okuno-in(the Inner Sanctuary). Bifukumonin had a great influence not only on secular history but also on the world of faith.
Route 10: from Fudoin to Karukayado (苅萱堂)
Return to Odawara-dori Avenue again and continue east.
Kiyotaka Inari Shrine, located a little south of the street, is an Inari shrine that is said to have been invited to Koyasan by Kakuban (or Kukai), a reformer of esoteric Buddhism, from Fushimi Inari in Kyoto. If you are interested in Bifukumonin's mausoleum at Fudoin, it is recommended to visit this shrine as a set. Located right in front of the "Karukayado-Mae" stop, Karukayado is the setting of a story about a father and son who suffered between the love of a father and son and the path of asceticism. Table of Contents
Kiyotaka Inari Shrine (清高稲荷神社)
To get to Kiyotakanari Shrine, walk through the "torii tunnel" on the east side of the Kitamuroin Temple and climb the stairs. At the main shrine, splendid foxes will welcome you. Behind the main shrine, there is a sacred tree with large cypress and cedar trees that are intertwined with each other. The cypress is believed to be male and the cedar female, making it a "union of male cypress and female cedar" and a power spot known to those in the know. The background of this belief may have something to do with the spread of Inari worship and Shingon esoteric Buddhism throughout the country in the Middle Ages, which worked in tandem. The goddess Inari was identified with Dakini, an important nymph to esoteric Buddhism, who also had an aspect as a "sex goddess." In the aristocratic society of the late Heian period (794-1185), belief in the special magic of Dakini-ten became widespread. One of the leading women of that era was Bifukumonin (Fujiwara no Tokuko), who was buried just southwest of the Kiyotaka Inari Shrine. Was the location of the Kiyotaka Inari Shrine and the mausoleum of Bifukumonin, who was also compared to the "nine-tailed fox," just a coincidence?
Located 300 meters west of Ichino Bridge, the entrance to Okuno-in(the inner sanctuary), Karukayado is the setting of the Ishidomaru Monogatari (Tales of Ishidomaru), known in joruri and other forms of Japanese literature.
At the end of the Heian period (794-1185), Kato Saemon Shigeruji, who was a barrier guard at Karukaya-no-seki in Dazaifu, Kyushu, became an ordained Buddhist monk and lived a life of asceticism at Koyasan under the name of Karukaya Doshin. His son Ishidomaru, born shortly thereafter, came to Koyasan to meet his father at the age of 14. Because women were not allowed on Koyasan, his mother stayed at an inn in Kamuro, and he climbed the mountain alone, where he met a priest at the bridge of the Gobyo (mausoleum) in Okuno-in (the Inner Sanctuary). This monk is Karukaya Doshin, who, based on Ishidomaru's story, is his own son. However, since Kariyan Doshin has abandoned the world, he pretends to Ishidomaru that "your father is dead. When Ishidomaru descended the mountain, he found that his mother had passed away after becoming ill on the long journey. Ishidomaru took his mother's remains with him to Mt. Koya again, where he became a disciple of Kariya Doshin, taking the name Donen. They remained masters and disciples, keeping secret the fact that they were actually father and son. Eventually, fearing that the love between father and son would cause him to neglect his training, Karukaya Doshin left Koyasan and went to Zenkoji Temple in Shinshu(Nagano). There he carved Jizo Bosatsu, and died in 1214 at the age of 83 at Karukayado-Ojoji Temple in Shinshu. He remained a secret that he was the father of Donen (Ishidomaru) for the rest of his life. Later, when Donen saw a purple cloud fluttering in the direction of Shinshu, he went to Zenkoji Temple and carved a Jizo Bosatsu, modeling it after his father's sculpture. Here at Koyasan, Karukayado is said to be the place where Karukaya Doshin practiced asceticism on Koyasan, and the "Ishidomaru Monogatari" is presented in pictures. In front of the exit, the "Karukaya Oyako Jizoson" is enshrined, said to have been carved by a father and son. It is said that many people (especially women) who saw this pictorial tale were so moved by it that they joined the Shingon sect. Table of Contents
Route 11: from Karukayado to Okunoin (the Inner Sanctuary)
We are finally on the final course of our Koyasan tour. Crossing the "Ichinohashi Bridge" just beyond Karukayado, we entered Okuno-in(the Inner Sanctuary), the most sacred of sanctuaries.
You can also take the bus from the "Karukayado-Mae" stop to the "Okunoin-Mae" stop at once and go to the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi (Kukai) at once from around the "Nakanohashi Parking Lot" (the orange route on the map). However, if you have time, the official and recommended route is to walk along the approach from Ichinohashi Bridge (red route on the map.) Take the orange route for the return trip. After visiting and touring Okuno-in(the Inner Sanctuary), you can take a bus at the "Okunoin-mae" stop or get a car from the "Nakanohashi Parking Lot" to return. If you have more time, you can walk back along a different route to Ichinohashi Bridge and then take a leisurely stroll along Odawara Street, stopping at souvenir shops and cafes. Table of Contents
Okunoin (the Inner Sanctuary / 奥の院)
Okuno-in(the Inner Sanctuary) is where Kukai is said to still meditate and pray for people's happiness. It is a special sanctuary where the mausoleum of Kobo-Daishi is located. Kukai is not alone. Around the path leading to the mausoleum of Kobo-Daishi, there are many tombs and memorial towers for warlords, high priests, and women who have made their mark on history since the Heian period (794-1192). Taira no Atsumori, Kumagai Naozane, Uesugi Kenshin, Takeda Shingen, Date Masamune, Ishida Mitsunari, Akechi Mitsuhide, Shinran, Honen, Ogo, Sen Hime, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, etc. ... For many people, this visit to Okunoin is the main purpose of going to Koyasan.
Not only for pilgrims who have completed the 88 pilgrimage sites in Shikoku and wish to pay their respects to Kobo Daishi, but also for those who do not have such strong feelings for Kukai, those who follow a different sect from the Shingon sect, and even those who have no interest in Buddhism, Okunoin is a special place for them. There are unique memorial towers erected by modern companies, memorial towers for the war dead of World War II and martyrs of battleships, several literary monuments whose contents are unbelievable standing in a sacred Buddhist site, so visitors can tour the site according to their interests. This site focuses on memorial towers for warlords, including their respective historical backgrounds.
Route 5: memorial towers of Shimazu Yoshihisa and Shimazu Yoshihiro to memorial tower of Maeda Toshinaga
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