Geoff Whalan

Koyasan Access Guide

Journey to one of Japan's most sacred places

Geoff Whalan
Veronica Carnevale   - 5 min read

Koyasan, or Mount Koya, is a mountaintop sanctuary in Wakayama Prefecture and the center of Shingon Buddhism in Japan. The holy forest is home to a small community of over 100 temples and monasteries, which provide guests opportunities to immerse themselves in Buddhist practices.

The quickest and easiest way to reach Koyasan is via private lines from Osaka or Kyoto. It is possible to reach Koyasan using some JR lines, but the travel time will be longer and you will have to transfer to private lines to finish the journey. There are also a number of discount passes that can help make the trip more economical. Follow the below access guide to ensure that your journey to the mountaintop is as peaceful and stress-free as your stay.

Please note that the travel times below are estimations and vary depending on the type of train you take (Shinkansen, Limited Express, Rapid Express, Express, and Local). Also, the travel time will likely be longer depending on the transfer time between trains.

How to Get to Koyasan

Osaka to Koyasan

Time: 1hr 35min– 2hr 5min

Cost: 1,670 yen–2,450 yen (estimated)

  1. Take the Nankai Koya Line from Nankai Namba Station or Shin-Imamiya Station to Gokurakubashi Station. There are some Limited Express trains that have direct routes (80 min & 1,650 yen), but the more common Local, Express, and Rapid express trains require transfers at Hashimoto Station (90-110 min & 870-890 yen).
  2. From Gokurakubashi Station, transfer to Koyasan Cable Car, which will take you up to Koyasan Station in roughly 5 minutes (500 yen).
  3. From there, the town’s center is about a 10-minute bus ride to Senjuinbashi bus stop (300 yen).

Kyoto to Koyasan

Time: 2hr 15min–2hr 50min

Cost: 2,410 yen–4,150 yen (estimated — JR Pass holders may travel for cheaper when using JR lines)

  1. Take the JR Shinkansen from Kyoto Station to Shin Osaka Station (15 min & 1,420 yen) or take the JR Kyoto Line from Kyoto Station to Osaka Station (25-30 min & 560 yen), both of which are covered by the JR Rail Pass.
  2. From Shin Osaka Station, hop on the Midosuji Subway Line to Namba Station (15 min & 280 yen). From there, you can walk to Nankai Namba Station.
  3. From Osaka Station, walk to Umeda Station and take the Midosuji Subway Line to Namba Station (7-10 min & 230 yen), and then walk to Nankai Namba Station. Alternatively, take the Osaka Loop Line (a part of JR Rail Pass) from Osaka Station to Shin-Imamiya Station (17-20 min & 180 yen).
  4. Then, follow steps 1-3 outlined above in Osaka to Koyasan.

Using JR lines to Koyasan

Time: 2hr 55min–3hr 20min

Cost: 1,250 yen (using a JR Pass to cover JR line travel)

  1. Take the JR Kuroshio train (Limited Express) from Shin Osaka Station to Wakayama Station (60 min).
  2. Then, take the JR Wakayama line to Hashimoto Station (75-80 min).
  3. From there, you will have to use the private Nankai Koya Line to travel to Gokurakubashi Station (40-60 min & 450 yen), and then follow the steps 2-3 under 'Osaka to Koyasan'.

Discount Passes to Koyasan

(Photo: Gokurakubashi Station – Geoff Whalan / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Koyasan World Heritage Ticket: this ticket covers the Nankai Koya Line Line, Koyasan Cable Car, and bus travel within Koyasan and includes discount coupons for some of the sites and souvenir shops. From Nankai Namba Station, two-day round-trip tickets cost 3,400 JPY (includes one-way limited express train to Koyasan) or 2,860 JPY (regular version, does not include limited express train). Koyasan World Heritage Ticket official website.

Kansai Thru Pass: this pass covers the Nankai Koya Line and provides unlimited use of trains, buses, and subways in the Kansai region, with the exception of JR trains. If purchased online or outside of Japan, two-day tickets cost 4,380 JPY, three-day tickets cost 5,400 JPY, and four-day tickets cost 6,420 JPY. Kansai Thru Pass official website.

JR Rail Pass: if you choose to travel via the Osaka Loop Line or JR Kurushio train and JR Wakayama Line to Hashimoto Station, this pass will cover the costs.

Veronica Carnevale

Veronica Carnevale @veronica.carnevale

Fulfilling my traveler's soul!