Mount Kōya (高野山, Kōya-san?) is the name of mountains in Wakayama Prefecture to the south of Osaka. Also, Kōya-san is a modifying word for Kongōbu-ji (金剛峯寺). There is no one mountain officially called Kōya-san (高野山) in Japan.

First settled in 819 by the monk Kūkai, Mt. Kōya is primarily known as the world headquarters of the Kōyasan Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. Located in an 800 m high valley amid the eight peaks of the mountain (which was the reason this location was selected, in that the terrain is supposed to resemble a lotus plant), the original monastery has grown into the town of Kōya, featuring a university dedicated to religious studies and 120 temples, many of which offer lodging to pilgrims. The mountain is home to the following famous sites:

Okunoin (奥の院), the mausoleum of Kūkai, surrounded by an immense graveyard (the largest in Japan)

Danjogaran (壇上伽藍), a heartland of Mt. Kōya.

Konpon Daitō (根本大塔), a pagoda that according to Shingon doctrine represents the central point of a mandala covering not only Mt. Kōya but all of Japan

Kongōbu-ji (金剛峯寺), the head temple of the Kōyasan Shingon Buddhism

Kōyasan chōishi-michi, the traditional route up the mountain

It also houses a replica of the Nestorian stele

In 2004, UNESCO designated Mt. Kōya, along with two other locations on the Kii Peninsula, Yoshino and Omine; and Kumano Sanzan, as World Heritage Sites "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range".


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