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msnaddie Feb 11th, 2015 05:31 AM

Day trip until night time at Koyasan?
Hi guys, am new to the forum :)

Am planning my solo trip to Japan this coming April/May (3rd time in Japan but 1st time flying solo) and was wondering about day trips to Koyasan (from Osaka).

So basically, the 1 night stay is way too pricey for my budget but based on what I've read Okunoin is awesome at night and I would love to experience it.

Is it possible/feasible for me to:
A) trek my way through Okunoin in the late evening and
B) make my way back when the lanterns are lighted up and still
C) make it in time for an 8.25pm train back to Namba Nankai? (I checked the train schedule but am confused by the timing for the bus and cable car.)

Or should I just swipe and splurge on the one night stay in Koyasan? (I already booked my Osaka stay for that night so that's one more dilemma but might be fixable. But the 1night stay is basically double of any hotel price I'm paying for my other 13 nights in Japan, hence why I'm reluctant to splurge.)

I would appreciate any input if anyone has done any similar day trips :)

Thank you!

msnaddie Feb 11th, 2015 05:51 AM

PS: Forgot to mention that I'll be going on a weekday! I think the bus and cable schedules might differ weekdays vs weekends.

Mara Feb 11th, 2015 07:15 AM

I don't know your budget or the current prices in Koyasan - I went a few years ago. But imo the overnight temple stay along with the early am service is the essence of the whole trip. And the stay includes two meals....

I haven't looked at the current bus schedules....but according to hyperdia the cable car runs pretty late....but it's close to two hours back to Namba Nankai...

Kavey Feb 11th, 2015 08:44 AM

I would imagine it will depend on what time of year you are going, and hence what time the sun sets, and consequently, what time the lanterns are switched on.

msnaddie Feb 11th, 2015 04:04 PM

@ Mara: To give you an idea of what my budget is like, my hotel per night at Tokyo, Osaka, Miyajima and Okayama are roughly 4000-6000yen, and for a 4th May stay for one night at Shojoshi-in I was given a quotation of 13,000yen. So yeah...

If I'm going for a day trip I'd just go on 5th May instead.. and eat a shojin ryori at one of the rec'd restaurants probably :D

@ Kavey: I checked Maghrib time prior to this and it's around 6.45pm - that's usually a few minutes after the sun has set. Are the lanterns usually lit right after sunset?

So I was thinking of may maybe making my way through Okunoin at 5.30pm, walk to the temple (approx 45min) and then make my way back down so that I arrive at Okunoin-mae by 7.21pm roughly... because I *think*, according to this ( that's the last bus from Okunoin-mae to Koyasan stn.

Too rushed? Not possible to walk around and see the lanterns lit in that period of time and still make it back to the bus? Any advice appreciated :)

Mara Feb 11th, 2015 04:41 PM

Since there are various ceremonies going on then plus Golden Week plus the 1200th Anniversary, you would probably be lucky to get any reservation....

Obviously it's up to you what you want to spend on a night's lodging and two meals.

I spend about the same as you when I travel but I usually do a big splurge somewhere or other.

btw, where can you stay on Miyajima for that price?

Enjoy your trip!

kja Feb 11th, 2015 06:43 PM

As Mara and Kavey have said, it really depends on what YOU most want. But for what it's worth, here are a few thoughts:

If you DO go to Koya-san JUST for Okuno-in, then you might want to try to get there earlier. IME, Okuno-in is NOT a place that is conducive to a fast-walk visit -- seeing the details of various grave markers, and they way they intertwine with the trees that have grown up around them, and the ways in which older and newer sections differ, takes (I think) a somewhat more leisurely pace. (Not that you have to slow to a turtle's pace!) And BTW, I'm not generally averse to walk-through visits -- I just don't think Okuno-in is well-suited to that pace.

Second, while I loved Shojoshin-in, I believe there are less expensive options on Koya-san. Have you checked your options on

One last thought: There have been MANY choices I've made to limit costs during my travels. There are only two that I regret, and in each case, I wish I had allowed myself a "splurge." I know that sometimes, that just is NOT possible, but thought I would offer the advice in case it proves useful to you.

Whatever you decide, I'm sure you will have a wonderful experience!

msnaddie Feb 11th, 2015 09:10 PM

@Mara : yeah, in fact Eko-in was fully booked and Shojoshi-in was the only one available for my top pick.

I'm staying at Sakuraya :) It was slightly more than 6000 but then it's before GW so that might've been a factor.

@kja: Thanks for your advice! It does help.. if I want to take it easy I suppose I should save up a bit more for a splurge. I chose Shojoshi-in due to its close proximity to Okunoin, altho tbh Eko-in was my first choice but it's not available on the date I wanted.

I should've clarified that I am coming to Koyasan earlier in the morning and plan to arrive at 11am :)

By the way, does anyone know if we can request from Shojoshi-in to have our meal in a private dining area instead of the semi-private dining area if we're a solo traveler? I've read conflicting reviews about this.

kja Feb 11th, 2015 09:21 PM

"does anyone know if we can request from Shojoshi-in to have our meal in a private dining area instead of the semi-private dining area if we're a solo traveler?"

I'm not sure, but when I was there, as a solo traveler in 2006, they had positioned lovely screens between each group of diners, so no one could see anyone who wasn't part of their group. I was glad that I had the opportunity to spend some time in room that afforded different views than my bedroom.

Kavey Feb 13th, 2015 12:24 AM

As we took the train, funicular and then bus to reach Koya-san I'm not sure what the logistics are for bus transfers in and out.

Certainly I agree with Kja that you would not want to rush yourself for your tour of Okuno-in.

If you are arriving late morning, you have time to visit the graveyard at more leisurely pace during the day, and then perhaps return for a shorter more limited walk there later in the day when the lanterns are lit, before leaving Koya-san.

I think if you are able to stay overnight, then you don't need to prioritise a temple right next to the graveyard, though for what its worth, I stayed in Shojoshin-in too. Because you can enjoy your meal in your temple and then go for an evening walk in the graveyard afterwards.

I'm sorry, I couldn't tell you more on when the lanterns are lit, whether it's the same time every day or based on the changing sunset time or on how dark it is or something else. Perhaps you can enquire of a local tourist office, as they may have this kind of detailed information.

I didn't even note the time that lanterns were turned on during our visit, and even if I had, I wouldn't be able to extrapolate from that to suggest what normal practice might be.

msnaddie Feb 13th, 2015 12:30 AM

@kja: thanks! Tbh the idea of a separated screen is just weird to me lol which is why I asked. It's a small matter though.

@kavey: thanks so much for your advice :) I'm enquiring around for other shukubo and will decide soon before all options run out. If it's not available, I would probably go for a leisurely pace in the morning and come back later, as you've suggested.

Again, thanks guys!

kja Feb 13th, 2015 12:38 AM

"the idea of a separated screen is just weird to me" -- FWIW, I feel very fortunate to have gained entry into numerous fascinating cultural experiences by setting aside MY concepts of what might be "weird" and allowing myself to experience what others consider to be special, or even extraordinary. YMMV.

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