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Trekking the Koya Pilgrimage Route

The Historic Pilgrimage Route that Kobo Daishi Kukai also Walked

One of the characteristics of Koyasan is that the ancient pilgrimage route that leads from Koya-Sanroku, its foothills, to Koyasan is also registered as a World Heritage Site. The Koya pilgrimage route “Cho-ishi Michi” is also one of the historic roads that make up the World Heritage Site.

Cho-ishi Michi was carved out by Kukai and is the most frequently used main path to the Okunoin Mausoleum on Koyasan. Cho-ishi Michi, which is about 20 km from Mt. Koya to Jison-in Temple in Kudoyama Town at Koya-Sanroku, is still used by many pilgrims.

Along the Cho-ishi Michi, stone signposts called ”Cho-ishi” are erected for each 109m, marking the distance from Danjo Garan, the center of Koyasan. It is common to see pilgrims walking up to Koyasan, visiting each of the 180 town stones one by one.

It takes a day to walk through all of the Cho-ishi Michi, but we also have a plan where you can split them into three courses and trek with a guide. Since it is a shortened course, it is safe even for beginners of mountain walking.

In and around the Cho-ishi Michi, you can enjoy a variety of scenery that changes with the seasons, such as a tunnel of fresh green leaves, a magical bamboo forest, and a field of brightly ripened persimmons. The autumn leaves at Niutsuhime Shrine, which is known as the guardian shrine of Koyasan and is close to Cho-ishi Michi, are also spectacular.

The Cho-ishi Michi passes through the Daimon gate of Koyasan, the Danjo Garan, and continues to the Okunoin Mausoleum beyond. As you walk to the Okunoin where Kukai is believed to still continue meditating, why not think about the people who walked this path in ancient times?