How to Get to Koyasan (Mount Koya)
Mount Koya or ‘Koyasan’ is one of Japan’s most rewarding destinations – a secluded complex of multiple temples – including the World Heritage-listed Kongobu-ji – and more than one hundred subtemples. On this page you will find the following information:
When considering your visit to Koyasan it’s worth nothing that while most easily approached from Osaka and therefore often enjoyed as a daytrip from that city, Koyasan is one of several hugely significant religious destinations within the ‘Kii Peninsula’. Named after the former province of ‘Kii’, the peninsula is the large landmass between Osaka and Nagoya that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. Often over-looked by international visitors as they zip past between those cities on the Tokaido Shinkansen, the Kii Peninsula boasts several of Japan’s most important spiritual centres including the temple mountain of Koyasan, the Ise Grand Shrine – the most important Shinto shrine in Japan – and pilgrimage trails, temples and shrines of the World Heritage-listed Kumano Kodo. For that reason, while Koyasan is most easily accessed from Osaka, we recommend considering it along with those destinations and another big reason to visit the Kii Peninsula on your next visit to Japan.
WHERE IS KOYASAN?
Located in Wakayama Prefecture, Mount Koya or ‘Koyasan’ sits around 90km / 2 hours drive to the south of Osaka. Consisting of multiple major temples and 120 subtemples along with shrines, cemeteries and university, Koyasan is a relatively compact area around 1000 metres above sea level. As such, it is easily explored on-foot – within most of its most popular attractions within walking distance of each other- with three local bus services also running between the temples, shrines and other stops. Koyasan is most readily accessed from Osaka using the Nankai Koya Line to Gokurakubashi Station – 80 to 120 minutes (depending on which service you choose) – from where the Koyasan Cable Car transports visitors to the top station – 5 minutes. Buses operate from the top station into the main temple complex – another 10 minutes.
HOW TO GET TO KOYASAN
Osaka is the nearest major city to the Koyasan making it the most convenient point from where to reach the temple complex. In this section we provide information on how to get to Koyasan from the following staring points:
While it may take time to get to Koyasan, making the journey is well-worth the effort. Koyasan ranks among Japan’s most culturally and spiritually significant destinations; one that can be enjoyed as a day-trip from Osaka or best-enjoyed as an overnight visiting when staying in one of its many ‘shukubo’ (temple lodgings). As noted, most visitors will make the journey to Koyasan starting:
FROM OSAKA / between 80 to 120 minutes
When heading to Koyasan from Osaka it is easiest to so from Nankai-Namba Station. From Nankai-Namba, the Limited Express ‘Koya’ service is the fastest option, taking around 85 minutes / JPY1680 to reach Gokurakubashi Station. Alternatively, you can take the Nankai-Koya Line Express to Hashimoto Station and transfer to the onward service to Gokurakubashi – a total journey of between 105 to 120 minutes / JPY890. Once at Gokurabashi, the Koyasan Cable Car ascends to the top station – a journey of only 5 minutes / JPY500 – from where you can take local bus services – 10 minutes / JPY300 – into the centre of Koyasan. Please note that the Nankai Koya Line is not covered by the Japan Rail (JR) Pass.
FROM KANSAI AIRPORT / between 150 minutes to 180 minutes
Visitors heading to Koyasan from Osaka’s Kansai International Airport can do so most quickly by using the Nankai-Kuko Line Airport Express to Izumisano Station and transfer to the service to Tengachaya Sation. Once at Tengachaya, transfer to the Nankai-Koya Line Express to Gokurakubashi Station – a total journey of 165 minutes / JPY1420. Alternatively, from the airport you can also take the Nankai Limited Express ‘Rapit Beta’ service to Nankai-Namba Station and then follow the directions above onto Gokurakubashi Station – a total journey of between 2.5 to 3 hours.
FROM KYOTO / approx. 195 minutes
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From Kyoto Station, take the JR Kyoto Line Special Rapid service to Osaka and then walk the short distance to Nishi-Umeda Station. At Nishi-Umeda, take the Osaka Metro Yotsubashi Line to Namba Station and then walk to Nankai-Namba Station. Once at Nankai-Namba, follow the direction above onto Koyasan – a total journey of around 195 minutes / JPY1690.
FROM NARA / approx. 160 minutes
From Nara Station, take the Yamatoji Line Yamatoji Rapid service to Tennoji Station and transfer to the Osaka Loop Line Yamatoji Rapid service to Shin-Imamiya Station. Once at Shin-Imamiya Station, take the Nankai-Koya Line Express to Hashimoto Station and transfer to the Nankai-Koya Line bound for Gokurakubashi – a total journey of 160 minutes / JPY1460.
FROM THE KUMANO KODO / approx. 195 minutes
For visitors heading to Koyasan for the World Heritage-listed Kumano Kodo, will be best-served to do so from Kii-Tanabe Station. From Kii-Tanabe, take the Limited Express ‘Kuroshio’ service to Wakayama Station and transfer to the Wakayama Line to Hashimoto Station. Once at Hashimoto, take the Nankai-Koya Line to Gokurakubashi Station – a total journey of around 195 minutes / JPY4410.
FROM ISE / approx. 240 minutes
Visitors heading to Koyasan from Ise can do so from either Ujiyamada Station or Iseshi Station. From either station, take the Limited Express ‘Vista’ to Osaka-Namba Station and walk to Nankai-Namba Station. Once at Nankai-Namba, follow the directions above onto Koyasan – a total journey of around 4 hours / JPY4060.
FROM NAGOYA / approx. 210 minutes
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From Nagoya Station, take the ‘Hikari’ service on the Tokaido Shinkansen line to Shin-Osaka Station and transfer to the Osaka Metro Midosuji Line bound from Namba Station. Once at Namba it’s a short walk to Nankai-Namba Station from where you can follow the directions above onto Koyasan – a total journey of around 3.5 hours / JPYR7110.
FROM TOKYO inc. NARITA & TOKYO AIRPORTS / approx. 270+ minutes
From Tokyo Station, take the ‘Nozomi’ service on Tokaido Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka Station and once there take the Osaka Metro Midosuji Line to Namba Station. Once at Namba walk the short distance to Nankai-Namba Station and follow the directions above onto Koyasan – a total journey of around 4.5 hours / JPY15,560. For anyone making the journey the journey from either Narita Airport or Haneda Airport, it will likely add between 1 to 1.5 hours to the journey time.
15 THINGS TO DO AROUND KOYASAN & WHERE TO STAY
Within easy reach of Osaka, Koyasan is one of Japan’s most significant spiritual centres. Home to over one hundred temples and subtemples including more than fifty ‘shukubo’ (temple lodgings), Koyasan can be enjoyed as a day-trip but is perhaps most rewarding when experienced as an overnight stay. Shukubo welcome guests of any faith and background with the option of joining morning prayers and other Buddhist practices. Our ’15 Things to Do Around Koyasan (Mount Koya) & Where to Stay’ page has our suggestions of the best things to see and do while there along with the best places to stay.
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