Overnight trip in Koya san -- worth it?

Apr 8th, 2012, 10:09 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
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Overnight trip in Koya san -- worth it?

My boyfriend and I are trying to decide whether an overnight trip to a temple on Mt. Koya is worth (a) the cost of temple accommodation and travel, and (b) the lengthy trip to get there from Kyoto, where we'll be for one week prior to the potential Koya san excursion.

On one hand, we've heard that an overnight stay in a temple can be a magical experience. The peaceful, wooded environment and the the opportunity to get a window into life in a temple are both selling points for us.

On the other hand, our one-night temple stay (in Rengejo-in) would cost way more than a one-night stay in any other hotel or riyokan we've planned to visit in Japan. This is a drawback, and since we've heard a bit about conspicuous cosumption in Koya san (monks driving around in BMWs, etc), it rubs us the wrong way.

Also, we'll be arriving in Koya san from Kyoto and then departing the next day for Tokyo, and we aren't sure if all of the longer-distance traveling will be worth the time or money.

Do you think it would be better to go forward with the overnight in Mt. Koya, or instead to extend our stay in Kyoto by one day and take a day trip to see Hemeji castle?

Any comments or suggestions are much appreciated! Thank you in advance.
Jesse_DavieKessler is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 10:24 AM
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First of all, Himeji is under renovation and covered with scaffolding so it is not the way it usually appears in photos.

I did two nights in Koyasan a couple of years back as by the time I got there from Miyajima it was late in the day so no time to see anything.

I enjoyed it immensely although I stayed in a different temple. At the time the cost for a night's lodging and breakfast and dinner was quite reasonable imo. I don't know anything about monks driving fancy cars....
Mara is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 10:49 AM
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For me, the best part of visiting Koya-san was the trip there, but I picked the wrong temple. Or at least the wrong temple on the wrong day. With the right temple I would say it would be very worthwhile. Unfortunately, I stayed at the temple you are considering. Good luck. (Note that a poster here suggested Shojoshin-in instead.)

See: http://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com/...e-at-koya-san/
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 09:27 PM
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I found my experience in Koya-san magical - a highlight even for a trip that held MANY highlights. I stayed at Shojoshin-in, which was a bit of a splurge for me at the time. I thought it was worth every penny.

If you do go, definitely walk around Okuno-in at dusk or dawn or both.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 11:29 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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We spent 2 nights in Koya-san and, like kja, found it magical. The journey there was quite long but enjoyable and worth every minute. We stayed at Eko-in, not the most expensive place but in a great location close to Okono-in (great at night and in daytime).

The early morning service in the temple next door was amazing. As a confirmed carnivore, the veggie food was a revelation for me - absolutely delicious. Some photos and more info on our blog;


It is worth considering getting one of the voluntary guides to show you around as there are a huge number of temples to see and, unusually for me, i found the guides descriptions really interesting.

We too had heard of the "conspicuous consumption" demonstrated by the monks but I have to say in two days there we saw no evidence of this.

We also took a day trip to Himeji prior to the renovations and really enjoyed that but I am not sure how much the scaffolding would detract from the experience. The gardens are superb http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blo...5680/tpod.html
crellston is offline  
Apr 9th, 2012, 07:21 AM
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I looked into temple stays right in and around Kyoto. If you decide not to invest the time and $ to go to Koyasan, there are indeed lovely temples in Kyoto where you can stay, or even not stay but go there for meditation, buddhist food, etc.

Taizo-in temple allows staying, meditation services, food, and it is near Sagano, a really lovely area of western Kyoto famous for bamboo forests, and Taizo-in is famous for its gardens. I looked into staying here once and it is probably the one I would choose for myself:


Nearby Taizo-in are two other temples that allow visitors:


In particular below, see the JNTO link on temple stays in Kyoto, and Ed Jacob's list.


emd3 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2012, 09:23 AM
Join Date: Apr 2009
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topping, as this OP is a fairly new postr and may not know how to find her thread...
emd3 is offline  
Apr 11th, 2012, 09:25 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
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Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful and generous responses! This is all very helpful -- the information about Koyasan, the trip there, and also temples around Kyoto. I will let you all know what we decide to do.
Jesse_DavieKessler is offline  

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