Koyasan Okunoin
THE trip to Japan in 2014 was my personal highlight of the year for sure. The journey started in Tokyo, then I went to Kyoto and Nara and finally I reached Koyasan – you can have a look at the pictures of the individual cities in the corresponding galleries on my photo page. I already covered why Kyoto should be on your bucket list in an article and Koyasan isn’t less spectacular, a lot smaller though.

Maybe you have the chance to visit a place like this only once in you lifetime so take a good photo equipment with you ;). On this trip, I made my wide angle pictures with the Sony A6000 and the SEL1018 lens. Besides this, I primarily used the Olympus O-MD E-M1 and the M.Zuiko 17mmM.Zuiko 75mm lenses. A very nice combination that I can highly recommend. Nevertheless, the SEL1018 is now gone and I use M.Zuiko 9-18, only because it’s much smaller and lighter.

If you can’t make it to Koyasan or you have not been able to make nice pictures for your living room you can buy all the pictures I made on my photo homepage (simply click on a picture in this article).

Background and arrival

Koyasan is located on a mountain in the prefecture Wakayama about 800 meters above sea level – that’s why part of your ascension is done by cable car including a great view. Koyasan was founded in the year 819 by a monk called Kukai (later he got the honorary title Kōbō Daishi) and is a famous pilgrimage site for followers of the Shingon Buddhism. But even as a tourist you’re welcome to stay in one of the often quite luxurious temples for a night so you don’t need to be a monk or follower.

 Ausblick aus der Seilbahn

View from the cable car

 Spektakuläre  Landschaft auf dem Weg nach oben

Spectacular landscape on the way to Koyasan


I booked a night with my girlfriend in the Fudo-In Temple – a great place to stay! You can book online by using Japanican. It’s by no means a cheap stay, but the experience makes it well worth it. The monks have been very polite and friendly. It was even explained what you just saw after attending the morning prayer ceremony (yes, you can take part!)! The traditional rooms are very big and the monks prepare your bed while you enjoy the great dinner they serve. The vegan food is awesome, you absolutely need to try it!

 Fudo In Eingang

Fudo In entrance

 Fudi In Zimmer

Fudo In room

 Fudi In Zimmer

Fudo In room

 Fudo In

Fudo In

 Fudo In Zimmer

Fudo In room

 Fudo In Zimmer

Fudo In room

 Fudo In Abendessen

Fudo In dinner

Okunoin Cementery

Besides the temples, the Okunoin Cementery is the main attraction of Koyasan. Unfortunately, I had to be in the temple at 9 pm sharp because you are not allowed to be outside afterwards so I wasn’t able to make many pictures at night. The atmosphere is really special but even in daylight you can see lots of great things and have the opportunity to take great photos.


When you’ve seen enough of Okunoin it’s time to discover the rest of the city. There are lots of nice temples and green places, take your time and enjoy. Everything is within walking distance so you don’t need to bother with buses or other vehicles. I had only one evening and the next day till afternoon to discover Koyasan. It’s enough to see most of the city but, to really enjoy and have enough time for everything, consider to stay for two nights.

I hope this helped to give you an impression why Koyasan fascinated me and should be on your bucket list. Take a look at my article about Kyoto and if you are interested in my photo equipment you can find the information on this webpage, too.

Which places in Japan were the most memorable for you or what is currently on your bucket list?


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Pierre Aden

I'm a photographer located in Frankfurt, Germany. When I am not travelling / taking pictures I like to play Table Tennis / Squash or watch TV Series. I work in a German bank in the Anti-Money-Laundering department.

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