The Koyasan Choishi-michi Trail is a pilgrimage route extending for 24km from Jison-in temple (in Kudoyama Town) at the foot of Koyasan to Okunoin via the Daimon gate. It has been a trail walked by the faithful since Kobo Daishi founded Koyasan.
Choishi are stone pillars about 3m in height in the shape of a Gorinto (five-elements pagoda) that were erected in the Kamakura period. Starting from the Konpon Daito and going as far as Jison-in temple, there are 180 of these stone pillars, and another 36 from there to Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum at Okunoin.
In the past, the faithful climbed to Koyasan while prostrating at each of the pillars along the trail. Today the trail is well-tended, and hikers can enjoy the hiking trail while counting off each of the 180 ancient stone pillars.
In 2004 Koyasan and the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range were registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Koya choishi stuparoute route
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Sanada-an Temple was built at the site of the mansion where Sanada Masayuki and his son Yukimura concealed themselves during the Warring States period. This place is also famous for its peonies.
The mother of Kobo Daishi Kukai came to visit him at Koyasan from Sanuki Province, but could not enter Koyasan due to the prohibition against women entering Koyasan. She passed away here, and Kobo Daishi built the Miroku-do Hall here for her, and enshrined a seated statue of Miroku (Maitreya) here (National Treasure). Since then the temple has been fondly called Nyonin Koya (Women’s Koya).
This is the area around stone pillar number 136. Perhaps there was a magnificent grove of Japanese cedars here at one time. Today there is a wide space suitable for resting.
Established about 1,700 years ago, this is the main shrine of about 180 shrines dedicated to the goddess Niutsuhime throughout Japan.
This is registered as a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site among the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range.
A lovely and unique sight with two stone torii archways found at Shinto shrines. It is said that Kobo Daishi built the two stone archways for the deities Niu Myojin and Koya Myojin. These two torii archways overlook the lovely rural landscape of Amano.
The teahouse at Yadate offers the yakimochi (grilled rice cakes) that is specialty of Hanasaka area. After taking a rest at the teahouse, take the ascending trail to the left. Steep trails continue for a while, but only one third of the course is left!
The huge multi-storied gate called Daimon was burned down several times. The present building is about 300 years old. The gate is a magnificent entranceway to all of Koyasan, with the two Guardian Kings, one with an open mouth and one with a closed mouth, standing to either side.
After reaching the Konpon Daito, the starting point of the Choishi-michi course, enjoy a stroll through the town.
The seven trails leading to Koyasan, called the Koya Nanakuchi-kaido, were frequented by pilgrims, and are now a popular hiking route. The trails are registered as World Heritage Sites along with the Koyasan Choishi-michi and Kumano Kodo Kohechi pilgrimage trails, and each course can be enjoyed during a single day’s hike. Take a hike along an ancient trail full of nature and history.
*Note: The information given here is as of August 2015. Be aware that the content may change.