Temple Lodgings at Koyasan from Nankai Railways
The World Heritage site Koyasan, a sacred site of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, was founded by a priest named Kukai about 1,200 years ago. Koyasan is a religious city on a summit of the Koya mountain range about 1,000 meters above sea level. Located to the south of Osaka, it is composed of more than one hundred Buddhist temples, huge and beautiful halls and towers, a Buddhist college as well as its 5,000 residents including 1,000 Buddhist monks.
Koyasan is particularly famous for its 52 temple-inns, or shukubo, where guests can stay over night and experience Japanese Buddhist culture firsthand. While the life of a true Buddhist ascetic can be quite severe, guests in the temple-inns are still afforded a measure of comfort during their stay. As an alternative to traditional Japanese ryokan lodgings, shukubo are a unique way to gain insight on Japan.
Although standards have relaxed somewhat in recent times, traditionally Buddhist monks were not allowed to eat meat or fish. Keeping with that tradition, the only food served at shukubo are vegetarian dishes called shojin ryori. The dishes are skillfully prepared without the use of any meat, fish, onions, or garlic. Hence, the food has a very subtle flavor. Some of these dishes include tempura, fried wild spring plants, herbs, tofu, miso soup, sweet and sour seaweed in a vinegar sauce and many other vegetable dishes. For over 1,100 years, the old recipes and cooking methods have been passed from monk to monk, chef to chef.
One of the most important dishes is tofu prepared with sesame seeds. At first glance, it may look like ordinary bean curd, but the special techniques used make it even more nutritious and delicious. It is also popular as a souvenir. A splash of soy sauce or honey is all it takes to finish preparing it at home.
-Taken from the Nankai Electric Railway newsletter, 16 Feb 2008
Koyasan is easily accessible on the Koya Line leaving from Osaka's Nankai Namba Station. Including the cable car ride to Koyasan's summit, it takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes by limited express or about 1 hour and 40 minutes by express to reach Koyasan from Nanking Namba. Nankai Railway also offers 1- or 2-day tickets to Koyasan that make travel more convenient and save up to 17% off of the normal fare.
Koyasan Free Service Ticket (1- or 2-day excursion ticket)
-Discounted round-trip train fare
-Discounted bus fares at Mt. Koya
-Discounted entrance tickets
-Discount souvenir coupons
Fares with the Koyasan Free Service Ticket start at JPY 2,780 for adults, or JPY 4,000 for Limited Express tickets.
Koyasan Free Service Tickets are available at major Nankai Line stations, including Kansai Airport Station, Namba Station, Shin-Imamiyama Station, Tengachaya Station, and Hashimoto Station.
URL: Nankai Electric Railway's Koyasan Page (external site)
JAPANiCAN.com's Top 3 Shukubo Temple Lodgings
1. Koyasan Onsen Fukuchiin Koyasan, Wakayama
Guestrooms are surrounded by a large garden that was designed by a famous landscape artist. The hot spring (onsen) bath is open 24 hours a day.
From JPY 7,875
2. Hongakuin Koyasan, Wakayama
Hogakuin is surrounded by five unique gardens in the center of a quiet wooded area. The food here is especially famous.
From JPY 12,600
3. Henjoko-in Koyasan, Wakayama
This temple used to be the imperial chamber for Emperor Shirakawa. Here, visitors can see many items on display that have been designated as important national treasures. Visitors can also enjoy rooms facing a bright new garden, each with fusuma (Japanese-style sliding doors) covered with gold dust.
From JPY 8,925