• Alex Gillam

Mt. Koya, where Japanese Buddhism Took Hold

Updated: Jul 9

One of Japan’s holiest mountains, Mt. Koya is famous for being the birthplace of Shingon Buddhism, and today it is a World Heritage Site where travelers can experience a different, more spiritual side of Japan.

The ancient cedar forest that carpets the mountainside is picturesque in its own right, but if you venture within you will find historic pagodas, Japan’s largest rock garden, an other-worldly cemetery with more than 10,000 eternally-lit lanterns, and a unique temple stay experience like no other. Known as a ‘shukubo’, these simple Buddhist Temple Lodgings allow for a number of unique experiences, such as: dining on Shojin Ryori (a Buddhist Vegetarian Meal), copying sutra scripture, a special morning prayer session and more.


As revered today as it was 1200 years ago, a visit to the spiritual peak of Mt. Koya is a must for anyone seeking a side of Japan that goes off the beaten track.




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