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Temple Gardens of Mt. Koya

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Temple Gardens of Mt. Koya


Take sanctuary from urban life in one of Koyasan’s many temple gardens

Wakayama Prefecture



Mt. Koya is the center of Shingon Buddhism. It is one of Japan’s most sacred destinations, renowned for its many temples and spiritual landmarks. It is also home to beautiful Japanese gardens, kept within many temples' grounds. These hidden gems of master landscaping include the 2,340-square-meter Banryu-tei garden of Kongobuji Temple, the head temple of Koyasan Shingon Buddhism.


The largest dry rock garden in Japan, Banryu-tei was completed in 1984 and comprises 140 naturally formed granite rocks brought from Shikoku, the birthplace of Kukai, who was the founder of the Shingon sect. The placement of the granite within their bed of immaculately raked white stones represent a pair of guardian dragons emerging from a swirling sea of clouds.


Other gardens at Mt. Koya include those designed by Kobori Enshu, a 16-17th century feudal lord, architect, garden designer, artist and tea master. The three gardens of Fukuchi-in Temple also showcase the work of Mirei Shigemori, one of the most prominent landscape gardeners of the 20th century.


To enjoy these gardens, 51 of the 117 temples in Mt. Koya offer temple stays, where you can experience monastic life on the temple grounds and relax in the gardens at your leisure.


How to get there


Take the train from Shin-Osaka Station to Namba Station, which takes about 15 minutes. Then take the express train to Gokurakubashi Station, which takes about 20 minutes. Finally, take the cable car to Koyasan Station, which takes about 10 minutes. It is about 10 minutes from Nankai Koyasan Station by bus.


132 Koyasan, Koya-cho, Ito-gun, Wakayama-ken


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