Spending A Night on Mount Koya: Japan’s Best Kept Secret

Hidden in the mountains, Mount Koya has become a top destination for both Japanese and foreign tourists in search of the tranquility in this secluded temple village. I know I have always dreamed of visiting Mount Koya. When I went to Japan the first time with my aunt I was living in Australia, I missed out on Mount Koya because of time restriction. I wanted to go so bad, the misty mountain seemed like a place where real magic lived. But unfortunately it was not meant to be.

Finally, after a three year wait I went back to Japan with my boyfriend and I made sure we went to Mount Koya. And I’m so happy we did. It was one of the most amazing things I have done to date. It’s one of those experience that stay with you for a lifetime, always on the surface of your nostalgia.

Home to more than 100 temples, Mount Koya is known for its Shukubo (temple lodging) where you are invited to experience what it’s like to live a monk’s lifestyle, including attending morning prayer and eating traditional vegetarian monks’ cuisine.


To me it was what I had been searching for since my first trip to Japan; tranquil temples hidden between the village paths and trees, gardens with koi fish and calming designs. It’s like being transported back in time when you reach the temple’s doors.

The journey to Mount Koya can be a long one, especially if you’re like me and only plan the journey the night before. Thinking we could train from Nara to Koyasan directly, we were miserable to find that we had to train back to Osaka, take the Osaka Namba line, transfer to the Nankai Line and then transfer to the Koyasan-Line, then take the tram up the mountain where you then wait for a bus to take you to your temple’s stop. A six hour journey all together. Much longer day dragging around a suitcase than the 2 hour journey google had told us it would be.


It was more than worth it though.

When we arrived I was more than happy to find the mountain village was still like the photos I have been fawning over for years, the tranquil atmosphere  not ruined by hoards of noisy tourists like most sacred places have become. The eeriness you’d see in pictures was still very much true, especially when you walked the cemetery early after morning prayer while the fog was still heavy between the trees and tombstones.

It was magical and we were lucky to be mostly walking the twenty minute trail by ourselves till you got closer to the temples. If I could have I would have liked to spend more time on the mountain to fully enjoy what the village had to offer. But I was grateful that we made it to Koyasan with the amount of time we did.


A tip: be prepared for the morning prayer to be longer than you expect. Most prayers go on for about an hour starting at 6:00am.


Mount Koya is so worth the trip. I can’t recommend enough that you spend at least one night in the mountain village. I would have loved to have spent three 2 days on the mountain to really get a feel of the area. It’s all the more reason to go back tho!


Want to know more about Japan? Check out these posts!

5 Things To Do In Osaka

Everything You Need To Know About A Japanese Ryokan

How To Spend A Day In Nara

You Need To See These Photos Of Kyoto 

How To Travel Japan On A Budget 




Have you heard of Mount Koya? If you’re heading to Japan you’ll love this post on travelling Japan cheaply and what you need to know before going! 

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  • Reply
    January 21, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    Hi! do you remember what was the name of the temple? cheers!

    • Reply
      The Fernweh Wolf
      January 23, 2018 at 7:57 am

      Hey! I thinkkkkkk it might have been Shojoshin-in but I’m not a hundred percent 🙂 Let me know if you need anything else! Mount Koya was my fav

  • Reply
    8 Tips On How To Take Better Travel Photos
    August 3, 2015 at 10:54 am

    […] and people perfectly. I agree with him fully. This photo was taken in the early morning on Mount Koya in […]

  • Reply
    March 23, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    This sounds incredible! I’ll have to make this a must on my next trip to Japan

    Chalsie | The Workshop Co. x

    • Reply
      March 25, 2015 at 10:06 pm

      You should! It was one of the most amazing places I’ve been it’s so secluded in the mountains 😀

  • Reply
    What To Expect From A Japanese Ryokan
    March 23, 2015 at 8:11 am

    […] also got a chance to stay on Mount Koya, a Buhhdist town, ( read more about that here) in a traditional ryokan room and it was much the same as the guest house. Big room, mats and […]

  • Reply
    Wilber Amigo
    February 15, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    Keep up the good work, I read few blog posts on this website and I conceive that your web site is real interesting and has sets of wonderful information.

    • Reply
      February 17, 2015 at 10:44 am

      wow thank you! I’m glad someone actually enjoys reading what I’ve been posting :]


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