The Danjo Garan is the central temple complex of Japan's sacred Mt Koya temple town, and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The complex is comprised of about 20 buildings, including several temples, the ceremonial Kondo Hall, and a 147-foot (49-meter) red pagoda housing five statues of the seated Buddha. The massive pagoda, called The Great Stupa, has been home to practicing monks for over 1,000 years, and the Danjo Garan as a whole is revered as the center of Shingon Buddhism.
While Mt Koya was once a hard-to-reach destination, today you can visit the sacred location and its temples on a day trip or overnight visit from Osaka. To get the most out of your visit, consider touring Danjo Garan Temple and Okunoin graveyard on a two-day trip that includes an overnight stay in a temple with a hot spring.
The Garan complex is open daily from 8:30am to 5pm. It is free to wander, but you’ll have to pay a small entrance fee to enter The Great Stupa. Admission is JPY 200.
The complex is located in Koyasan town center on Mt Koya, which is about a two-hour drive from Osaka. The site is accessible by rail, cable car and bus.
Did you know? According to local legend, the founder of Shingon Buddhism threw a ceremonial tool from his location in China to determine the location of his religion's headquarters. When he returned to Japan, he found his tool caught in a pine tree and began to build Danjo Garan Temple.