Okunoin Temple 奥の院
A monk, a mausoleum and a myth at one of Japan's most sacred sites
Located on the north side of Koyasan , Okunoin Temple is a sanctuary housing the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai). Kobo Daishi was a famous monk, scholar, engineer and the founder of Shingon Buddhism who lived from 774–835 A.D. Legend says he is still resting within the mausoleum in a state of eternal meditation.
- The Ichinohashi Bridge, where guests pay tribute to Kobo Daishi
- Hold Miroku Stone with one hand to feel the weight of your sins
- Visit Torodo Hall, the hall of lamps and Okunoin's main hall for worship
How to Get There
From Koyasan Station take the bus that drops you off at the Okunoin-mae bus stop.
For those wishing to walk the full length of the cobbled path up to Okunoin, get off at the Ichi-no-hashi-guchi bus stop. Get off at the Okunoin-mae bus stop for a shorter walk as the stop is located around a kilometer into the walk to the temple.
Japan's largest cemetery
The temple's expansive grounds are home to Japan's largest cemetery with memorials and monuments to over 200,000 souls, including some of the most famous people in Japanese history. All these souls wished to be closer to the Buddhist pioneer, Kobo Daishi, and hoped for a fast track to salvation.
Take the scenic and monumental walk to the grounds
The two-kilometer cobbled walkway leading up to Okunoin is flanked by ancient cedar trees and dotted by tributes to iconic figures from history including heroes of war and modern business to royalty, monks, and feudal lords. Each memorial located here represents the spirit of the person, keeping their legacy alive.
Let there be light
Torodo Hall—known as the Hall of Lanterns—is located in front of Kobo Daishi's mausoleum and is the center of worship for the temple. A sparkling sanctuary of spirituality, its name is a reference to the over 10,000 lanterns that are permanently lit throughout the hall.
The main man
Entry to the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi is forbidden, in part to avoid disturbing its inhabitant, who is believed to be in a continuous state of meditation. Instead, monks, pilgrims, and the general public pay their respects from outside the mausoleum.
A bridge between two worlds
Ichi-no-hashi Bridge marks the official entrance to the temple grounds and is the gateway between two worlds, the sacred and the secular worlds. Visitors are expected to bow to show their respect to Kobo Daishi before crossing the bridge and entering the sacred grounds of Okunoin. Further in, you will cross Gobyo-no-hashi Bridge to enter the innermost part of the temple. From this point on, food, drink, and photography are forbidden.
You can explore the area in just a few hours. In the evenings you can fully soak up the moody and mystical atmosphere in this sacred area of Japan.