Complete guide to the highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji

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The Sohonzan Kongobu-ji Temple is a temple located in Mount Koya and is the head temple of the Koyasan Shingon Buddhism. Before the Meiji period, the entire area of Mount Koya was referred to as Kongobuji. However, in the second year of the Meiji period, Seigan-ji Temple and Kouzan-ji Temple were merged, establishing the name of a single temple, Sohonzan Kongobu-ji Temple. Seigan-ji Temple was a temple erected by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to mourn the soul of his mother, Omandokoro. Positioned nearly at the center of Mount Koya, it is also the residence of the chief abbot of Kongobuji.

For a comprehensive overview of the entire Koyasan, please refer to 「Highlights and access methods of Koyasan (Wakayama Prefecture)」.

Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(0)

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Seimon(Main Gate)

The Seimon (main gate) is used when entering the Shuden(main hall) from the parking area. The Seimon was reconstructed in 1862, and during that time, only a select few such as the Emperor, imperial family members, and important figures from Koyasan were allowed to use it. Monks would use a side door located to the right of the Seimon. Nowadays, visitors are also permitted to pass through the Seimon.

Seimon(Main Gate): Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(1)

Seimon(Main Gate): Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(2)

Seimon(Main Gate): Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(3)

Separate from the Seimon, there is the Ekamon near the side entrance of the Shuden.

Ekamon: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(4)

Ekamon: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(5)

Ekamon: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(6)

Shourou & Kyozou

On the right side upon entering the Seimon, you'll find the Shourou. This Shourou was originally used at Seigan-ji, which served as the foundation for Kongobuji. It was reconstructed in 1864.

Shourou: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(7)

Shourou: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(8)

On the left side upon entering the Seimon, you'll see the Kyozou. Donated in 1679, it is the second oldest existing building at Kongobuji among the present structures.

Kyozou: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(9)

Shuden(Mail Holl)

Beyond the Seimon, you can see the Shuden(main hall). It's a spacious building measuring 60 meters east-west and 70 meters north-south. After being destroyed by fires and other factors, it was reconstructed, and the current building dates back to 1863. The Shuden has both a main entrance and a smaller entrance. The main entrance was exclusively used by the Emperor, imperial family members, and high-ranking officials of Koyasan.

Shuden(Mail Holl): Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(9)

Shuden(Mail Holl): Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(11)

Main entrance and Smaller entrance: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(12)

Tensui-Oke

On the roof, there are barrels called "Tensui-Oke". Rainwater was collected in these barrels for regular use, and in the event of a fire, the water from these barrels would be sprinkled on the roof to keep it damp.

Tensui-Oke: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(28)

Tensui-Oke: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(29)

Tensui-Oke: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(30)

Tensui-Oke: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(31)

Fusuma Painting

When you enter the Shuden, you can see many splendid fusuma paintings. The fusuma painting "Gunkakuzu" by Saito Toushitsu in the large hall, and the fusuma painting "Baigetsuryusui" by Kano Tanyu in the plum room, and in the willow room known as Hidetsugu's self-blade room, there is a fusuma painting called "Ryurozu" by Kano Tanyu (photography is prohibited in all areas).

In 2020, paintings on sliding doors, "Dangai-zu" and "Taki-zu", were donated by Hiroshi Senju, a globally renowned artist. Photography of these works is permitted.

Here is Dangai-zu.

 Dangai-zu: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(32)

 Dangai-zu: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(33)

 Dangai-zu: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(34)

Here is Taki-zu.

Taki-zu: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(35)

Taki-zu: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(36)

Taki-zu: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(37)

Taki-zu: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(38)

Banryutei

The Banryutei is one of the largest rock gardens in Japan. It was landscaped in 1984 to commemorate the 1150th anniversary of Kobo Daishi's entrance into eternal meditation. The white sand of Shirakawa, which represents a sea of clouds, was sourced from Kyoto, and within this sea of clouds, 140 pieces of Shikoku granite were used to depict a pair of male and female dragons. Banryu refers to a dragon that is crouching on the ground and has not yet ascended to the heavens, and these two dragons are arranged to protect the Okuden.

Banryutei: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(14)

Banryutei: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(15)

Banryutei: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(16)

Banryutei: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(17)

Banryutei: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(18)

Kongobuji Temple Crest

Typically, temples have one temple crest, but Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji has two. The temple crest on the left is the "Gosan no Kiri", which was originally the temple crest of Seigen-ji. Originally, Kongobuji was formed by merging Seigen-ji and Koyozan-ji, with Seigen-ji being founded by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The temple crest on the right is the "Santo Migidomoe", which is the deity crest of Niutsume Shrine, the guardian deity of Koyasan. Kongobuji Temple uses these two emblems as its temple crests.

Kongobuji Temple Crest: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(19)

The temple crest is also drawn on the lanterns at the main gate.

寺門: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(20)

Kitchen

As you follow the route in order, you will eventually arrive at the large kitchen at the end. This kitchen, which has prepared meals for many monks, is quite spacious. There are three pots called "Nikoku-gama," capable of cooking rice for up to 2,000 people in total. It is said that the large hearth is still occasionally used today.

Kitchen: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(21)

Kitchen: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(22)

Kitchen: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(23)

Kitchen: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(24)

Kitchen: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(39)

Kitchen: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(40)

Kitchen: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(41)

Kitchen: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(42)

Courtyard

The courtyard is designed so that you can enjoy the scenery of each season, with rhododendrons blooming in spring and colored leaves in autumn. I would like to visit again in another season.

Courtyard: Highlights of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(25)

List of photos related to Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji

Please see below for a list of photos related to Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji.

Address and access method of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji

Address of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji

The address of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji is "132 Koyasan, Koya-cho, Ito-gun, Wakayama Prefecture".

Access method of Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji

I will explain how to get to Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji from Shin-Osaka Station.

Shin-Osaka Station

OsakaMetro Midosuji Line
15 minutes

Namba Station

Walking
8 minutes

Namba Station

Nankai Electric Railway Koya Line
80 minutes

Gokurakubashi Station

Nankai Electric Railway Koyasan Cable Car
5 minutes

Koyasan Station
Koyasan Station Bus Stop

Nankai Rinkai Bus
11 minutes

Kongobuji-mae Bus Stop

Short walk

Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji

Official site

Official site about Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji :

https://www.koyasan.or.jp/

Koyasan Sohonzan Kongobuji(1)

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Thank you for reading to the end.

( Written by Tatsuo Ikura )