JAPAN Inspiration Gallery 11 Japan
Back to Listing

Mount Koya

Deep within the majestic mountains of the Wakayama Prefecture, not too far from Osaka or Kyoto, lies Mount Koya (known as ‘Kōya-san’ in Japan). While this town is tiny in size, it is huge in spirit as it holds great Buddhist significance and radiates a palpable atmosphere.

This sacred beauty spot is revered by many as a renowned Japanese monk (named Kobo Daishi) created a Shingon Buddhist temple complex in this secluded alpine basin in 805 AD.

A spiritual, almost mystical, atmosphere envelopes you as soon as you wind your way up along the picturesque roads to the mountaintop – especially if you take the charming funicular from the local train station – as you are met by complete tranquillity, save for the odd ringing of a temple’s bell as the pilgrims come to pay their respects. Surrounded by nothing but pristine scenery, pure fresh air and sharp sunlight, you genuinely feel far removed from the hustle and bustle of built-up city life here.

As Mount Koya is home to a handful of special cultural sites, it has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2004. Without a doubt, our favourite of these is the evocative Okunoin Cemetery, which we recommend visiting at both day and night: the mossy gravestones and memorial pagodas glow in the crisp sun yet retain their magic in the shadow of the night, creating an ethereal atmosphere. As you walk down the central 2km pathway surrounded by towering cedar trees, you cross a stone bridge to the acclaimed Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum. This is a mesmerising place, home to beautiful details and more than 10,000 perennially lit lanterns.

The holy temple complex (Danjo Garan) is also well-worth a visit: from the ancient wooden Kongobuji Temple with its gilded painted screens and perfectly raked rock garden, to the quintessential bright orange Konpon Daito pagoda. Delve into the region’s rich history with the help of our expert local guide and learn about particular cultural practices before heading to your temple lodging for the night. Staying within a Buddhist monastery is truly unmissable here as it brings the beauty of Japan to life: monks forge connections with you despite not speaking much - if any - English, the perfectly presented vegetarian food is surprisingly rich in flavours and colours and the manicured gardens with their bonsai trees create a calming Zen atmosphere. The real highlight of a visit here is attending a morning prayer ceremony – a meditative experience that's bound to form long-lasting memories. 

Mount Koya is one of our absolute favourite hidden gems in Japan and guarantees an authentic cultural experience, making it a great addition to a tailor-made tour for those interested in getting under the skin of this wonderful country.

Mount Koya (1).jpg Mount Koya (1).jpg
Mount Koya (2).jpg Mount Koya (2).jpg
MountKoya (4).jpg MountKoya (4).jpg
MountKoya (14).jpg MountKoya (14).jpg
MountKoya (7).jpg MountKoya (7).jpg
MountKoya (12).jpg MountKoya (12).jpg
MountKoya (3).jpg MountKoya (3).jpg
MountKoya (5) - Copy.jpg MountKoya (5) - Copy.jpg
MountKoya (9).jpg MountKoya (9).jpg
MountKoya (8).jpg MountKoya (8).jpg
MountKoya (11).jpg MountKoya (11).jpg
MountKoya (13).jpg MountKoya (13).jpg
MountKoya (6).jpg MountKoya (6).jpg
MountKoya (10).jpg MountKoya (10).jpg
Travel is the only thing that you buy that makes you richer.

Client Testimonials

Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
I would recommend Ampersand without any hesitation!!! The best travel agent that I’ve ever had dealings with. Everything – from the individual care and attention in helping to plan the trip, through to the efficiency of the agents on the ground in India – was handled brilliantly. An absolutely first-class service all round.
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka

From our Instagram

✨Please vote for us!✨
*Link in Bio*
For the top Tour Operators & Specialists in the  #CondéNastTraveler #ReadersChoiceAwards #2019
Only 5 Days left!
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Wander through the bustling fruit and vegetable markets in #Pondicherry to experience the true essence of #TamilNadu 🇮🇳🥬🍎
Follow our stories for live updates!
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
As you travel through #Cambodia’s countryside you’re bound to come across some friendly faces like these! 🧡
If you’d like to go off the beaten track in this wonderful country and meet some lovely locals along the way, then please get in touch!
📸 @alesmartan
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
A team of Ampersander's have officially landed in #Rajasthan. First stop, the Capital - #Jaipur 💗

Also known as the Pink City because of its trademark colour throughout, its hard to miss a picture perfect moment in front of one of Jaipur's landmark doorways.

For more inspiration and to follow the teams journey through the Golden Triangle, keep an eye over on our Instagram stories and get in touch if you want to begin your trip!
. 📸 @chrsschlkx

#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
💧#WaAle is calling our name this Monday
Set on a secluded island in the #MerguiArchipelago, this eco resort makes for the perfect tropical escape
If you’re also tempted by these shots of the aquamarine #AndamanSea, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to start planning your trip!
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
#SriLanka has just been awarded the title of #WorldsBestIsland by @travelandleisure 🇱🇰
We couldn’t be happier that this spirited country is getting the recognition it deserves!
Travel with us to get under the skin of this spectacular country 
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
🇨🇳 Drift down the #LijiangRiver while touring #China with us to find yourself surrounded by towering karst mountains, mirror-still waterways and sunsets like this 🌅
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
📸 @joelsantosphoto
"They've spotted us!" 🦒 #OkavangoDelta in #Botswana

One of the most sought-after wilderness destinations in the world. Reigning over 15,000 Square kilometers of land - there's no wonder that its home to 200 different species of mammals!

If you'd like to be in with the chance of spotting one of these for yourselves, get in touch to start planning your safari adventure! 📸 @ravalli1 @mlabgol @mo_naser 
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
As the Rugby World Cup kicks off in #Tokyo this weekend,  and #Japan will soon begin to bloom into its world renowned Autumn season, we want to be there more than ever! 🇯🇵🍂
Attracting three million tourists every year, the #tokyotower has quickly become Tokyo's international symbol since its opening in 1958. 🗼
If you'd like to see this Eiffel Tower-inspired structure for yourself, speak to one of our specialists today!
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience

Let us keep you up to date

Sign up to our newsletter and never miss out on unmissable exclusive luxury experiences

Condé Nast Top Travel Specialist Award 2019
Condé Nast Readers Choice Award 2019