How to access to Mt. Koya (Koyasan)

Koyasan (Mt. Koya) (C) JNTO
World Heritage site Koyasan (Mt. Koya) too. (C) JNTO

Mt. Koya (Koyasan) is one of very popular destinations in Kansai area. Most common way to Mt. Koya is Nankai Railway line. It takes you to Gokurakubashi station where is located at the base of Mt. Koya. You may transfer to the funicular to Mt. Koya.

If you use JR deals, such as JR Pass (nationwide pass), Kansai area pass, Kansai Hiroshima area pass and other JR West passes, you cannot use the pass because Nankai Railway is not JR. If you do not use these JR deals, you may use other deals, such as Kansai Thru Pass, Koyasan World Heritage Pass.

You may use these JR deals partially to get Mt. Koya if you want.

In this post, I would like to show you the way to get Mt. Koya and also tell you how you use the deal.

Nankai Railway line

As I mentioned at the beginning, Nankai Railway is most common way to Mt. Koya. Nankai Railway operates a rapid train and a limited express train between Namba and Gokurakubashi. Namba is one of the biggest downtown core in Osaka as you probably know.

Limited Express “Koya”

Nankai Railway Limited Express Koya (Namba – Gokurakubashi).

Average trip time: 1 hour 20 minutes (and extra 10 minutes for the funicular)
Fare: Basic fare 1,230 yen (+ Express surcharge 760 yen)

Nankai Railway operates Limited Express train “Koya” between Namba and Gokurakubashi. This is the easiest and the fastest way to get Gokurakubashi. Koya is only train which connects Namba and Gokurakubashi directly.

Gokurakubashi station is the gate station to Mt. Koya. You will transfer to Nankai Koyasan Cable Car line (the funicular line to Mt. Koya) at Gokurakubashi.

Koya interior
Interior of Limited Express Koya

Nankai also operates Limited Express train “Rinkan” between Namba and Hashimoto. Hashimoto is 9 stations away from Gokurakubashi. You can simply transfer to a local train to Gokurakubashi at Hashimoto. If you want to get a comfortable seat, you can take Limited Express Rinkan. Rinkan is operated by same fleet as Koya. The express surcharge is a bit cheaper than Koya at 500 yen. But the trip time between Namba and Gokurakubashi is not much different from the trip time by Rapid Express and Local train which I explain in next chapter. Limited Express Rinkan is not a good choice to shorten your trip time.

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Hotels and Ryokans in Mt. Koya
Hotels in Wakayama

Rapid Express and Express

Interior of rapid, rapid express and local trains. Usually train is more crowded.

If you are okay with taking a commuter train, Rapid Express and Express trains are most affordable. Accommodation is completely different from Koya and Rinkan. You have to change the trains at Hashimoto. But you are able to get Gokurakubashi in 90 minutes with no express surcharge. However this is a commuter train. You cannot secure your seat. You may have to stand up in the train.

View How to get Mt Koya (Koya San) in a larger map

Cruising train “Tenku”

All seats towards to the valley side

Nankai Railway operates Tenku between Hashimoto and Gokurakubashi. Tenku is operated as a rapid train on this segment by specialized fleet.

I have taken “Tenku” and rapid express to Koyasan in 2017. You can find my trip report in the link below. You will find my day trip to Koyasan and many information about the stations, transportation and sightseeing spots in Koyasan. I believe this trip report gives you many ideas to build your trip plan.

Two days trip to Koyasan (Mt. Koya) and Wakayama from Osaka, Part 1 – Namba to Koyasan

Taking JR train

If you will use JR Pass, Kansai Area Pass, Kansai Wide Area Pass, Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass or other JR deals, you might think using the pass to get Mt. Koya. To go straight to the bottom line, you cannot get Mt. Koya by JR trains only. The nearest JR station is Hashimoto. You have to take Nankai Railway train between Hashimoto and Koyasan via Gokurakubashi which is not covered by JR deals. You can use JR Pass or other JR deals to get Hashimoto and save your trip cost. But you have to spend extra minutes in exchange for saving the cost and you have to pay for Nankai Railway.

I will show you the route and trip time. You can compare the cost and the trip time.

Route 1, Osaka or Tennoji / Oji / Hashimoto / Gokurakubashi / Koyasan

Average trip time: 2 to 2.5 hours (and extra 10 minutes for the funicular)
Fare: Basic fare 810 yen for Nankai Railway and the funicular

You have two ways to get Hashimoto by Japan Railway and Nankai Railway.

The first option is taking Rapid train to Oji from Osaka or Tennoji. And then transfer to Wakayama line local train. You may have to change trains once more at Takada station.

If all train connections are very smooth, the trip time to Hashimoto from Tennoji is around 90 minutes. And then you have to spend 40 to 45 minutes for Nankai Railway from Hashimoto to Gokurakubashi and another 10 minutes from Gokurakubashi to Koyasan by cable car.

It is long way and complicated but you can save only 400 yen.

But if you travel to Mt. Koya from Nara, this is not a bad way.

Route 2, Shin-Osaka or Tennoji / Wakayama / Hashimoto / Gokurakubashi / Koyasan

Many of Limited Express Kuroshio is operated by newer 287 series.

Average trip time: 3 hours (and extra 10 minutes for the funicular)
Fare: Basic fare 810 yen for Nankai Railway and the funicular

Another option to use Japan Rail Pass to get Mt. Koya is Wakayama route. You may take Limited Express train Kuroshio from Shin-Osaka or Tennoji to Wakayama. And transfer to JR Wakayama line local train. Even if you take Limited Express to Wakayama, trip time is longer than the first option. Again this option is not a smart way even if you use JR deals partially. Simply it is a big detour. Trip time is much longer than Nankai Railway route.

But if you look for the route from Wakayama to Mt. Koya, this is the best and the fastest route. It takes just one hour from Wakayama to Hashimoto. And you will spend another one hour from Hashimoto to Koyasan via Gokurakubashi.

Suggested deals

There are some deals for the trip to Mt. Koya.

Koyasan World Heritage Ticket

This deal includes round trip fare between Namba and Mt. Koya, unlimited ride of local bus in Koyasan and discount coupon for major attractions and souvenir shops. It is valid for two days but you can get the worth by day trip too.

You can find the details about this deal in the link below:

Nankai Railway official site – Koyasan World Heritage Ticket

In this link, it shows the deal which includes one way limited express fee to Koyasan at 3,400 yen. But the deal which does not include limited express fee is available at 2,860 yen.

Kansai Thru Pass

If you visit Mt, Koya as day trip and visit other place(s), such as Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Kansai Thru Pass is the perfect choice. It covers Nankai Railway and bus in Koyasan area. Please see the link below to learn more about Kansai Thru Pass.

How to use Kansai Thru Pass. Compare pass and single fare


As I explained, JR train does not offer good access to Mt. Koya. Nankai Railway is a realistic choice. Even if you use JR pass or other JR deals, please try to avoid using it.

114 thoughts on “How to access to Mt. Koya (Koyasan)”

  1. Hello Takeshi,
    Could you please help us? We fly into Tokyo and we wil stay there for 2 nights. Then we go to Kyoto for a few nights then to Hiroshima and over to miyajima. The next day we are going to Osaka and visiting nara. We are wanting to go to koyasan for one night. Then go back to Osaka and back to tokyo for a few more nights. We thought it would be best to get a JR rail pass for 14 days and also get a Kansas thru pass or the world heritage pass. Could you please advise the best option. Thankyou so much!

    1. Hi Zoe,

      You may use 14 days JR pass and Koyasan world heritage pass. Kansai thru pass is not required. You can get Nara by JR pass.

      You can take JR local train in Osaka and Kyoto too. But some places cannot be accessed by JR train. You may add subway pass or bus pass as you need.


      Takeshi /

  2. Hi Takeshi

    We are planning the following route – would you recommend getting a JR Pass? In particular, I am concerned that the Kyoto-Nara-Mt Koya-Osaka section may be quite travel heavy, and I’m not sure what trains I will be allowed to take with a Pass! Do you have any recommendations about the best way to see all 4? We are coming in late May and so are hoping that the train line will be fixed by then!

    Day 1 – land in Tokyo (early morning)
    Day 2 – Tokyo
    Day 3 – Tokyo
    Day 4 – train to Kyoto
    Day 5 – Kyoto
    Day 6 – Kyoto
    Day 7 – train to Nara, night in Nara
    Day 8 – Train(s) to Mt Koya, night in Mt Koya
    Day 9 – Train to Osaka
    Day 10 – Osaka
    Day 11 – Train to Hakone
    Day 12 – Hakone
    Day 13 – Train to Tokyo, night in Tokyo
    Day 14 – Flight home

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Emily,

      Unfortunately JR pass does not work. 14 days pass is too expensive for your trip and 7 days pass is too short to cover your trip. Even if you start using 7 days pass on day 4, you need to pay the regular fare for Osaka to Hakone on day 11. You cannot get the worth by this portion of your trip.

      So you need to use some local deals in each cities. Please see the links below:
      For Tokyo

      Single ticket is your choice for Tokyo to Kyoto, Kyoto to Nara, Nara to Osaka, Osaka to Hakone and Hakone to Tokyo.

      For Kyoto

      For Osaka

      Return trip to Koyasan from Osaka



      Takeshi /

  3. Hi Takeshi! My husband and I will be in Fukuoka on Feb 13 and then take the train to Nagasaki, stay two nights, then take the train to Beppu where we will stay two nights. We want to take the Yufuin No Mori train back to Fukuoka. I have bought Northern Kyushu JR passes for us. My questions are do we have to go back to Fukuoka when going to Beppu from Nagasaki? And can you suggest other sites that we can visit on this itinerary? Many thanks!

  4. Hello All,

    I would be very grateful for some advice please on our upcoming travel to Japan. We are arriving into Shin-Osaka from Matsumoto on Sunday 12th August 2018 and staying close Namba Station/s. We won’t have a JR pass as we won’t be doing enough train travel to warrant it.
    However is it worth getting the Kanzai through Pass in Osaka (can this be brought at Osaka Municipal Subway Namba Station? for the below 3day itinerary? Where can I find the train departure timetables? And as we will be travelling to Koya-san on the Obon Rosoku Matsuri festival can we reserve our train seats in advance?

    Monday 13th August 2018 Osaka-Koya San via Gokurakubashi station.
    Tuesday 14th August Koya-San to Kyoto station
    Wednesday 15th August day trip to Nara and return to Kyoto

    Thanks in advance for your advice!

    1. Hi Rosanna,

      Kansai thru pass works for your trip. You can find the sales location in the link below:

      I also want to tell you about the status in Koyasan now. Train line to Koyasan was damaged by rain storm in last year. It’s still closed and actually still investigating. It may be open in April but not confirmed. You can get Koyasan by substitute bus now. But it may take much longer than train. I hope it will be open in August but please keep it in your mind.

      I update train status in the link below:


      Takeshi /

  5. Hi Takeshi! Please help. My husband and I will go to Akita from Tokyo on Dec 6-8. After some research, I think it’s best to buy a Japan East Tohoku pass. However, I understand this is for no reserved train travel. We still have to pay for seat reservation and green car travel. It seems with all the additional charges, it will be cheaper just to buy the Japan wide rail pass that includes green car travel. Please advise. Thank you!

  6. Dear Takeshi, my husband and I want to to go to Wakayama, Koyasan and the shrines in Kumano in early December this year. Our itinerary is as follows:
    December 5 Tokyo to Wakayama overnight there.
    December 6 Wakayama to Koyasan and overnight there.
    December 7 Koyasan to the Kumano shrines and back to Wakayama for overnight stay then back to Tokyo.
    Please advise what are the best routes to take. We are getting a JR pass for this trip. Thank you.

    1. Hi Fely,

      You can catch Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka from Kyoto and then take limited express Kuroshio to Wakayama.

      As I mentioned in the post above, you can take a local train from Wakayama to Hashimoto on the way to Koyasan. If you depart from Osaka, this route is not recommended. But you will stay in Wakayama. You can take JR Wakayama line local train to Hashimoto.

      Once you get Hashimoto, you need to take Nankai railway to Koyasan. It’s not covered.

      If you want to take the route via Kumano Kodo from Koyasan, you need to take a bus. It’s not covered either.

      You can go through this route to Kii Katsuura. You can use JR Pass to take train from Kii Katsuura to Wakayama. Limited Express Kuroshio runs on this segment.


      Takeshi /

  7. Hello again Takeshi-san,
    I forgot to mention we are landing at Narita airport, so will need transport to Tokyo too.

  8. Hello Takeshi-san,

    Thank you for your useful information. I am planning a 16 day trip mid Mar-early Apr with 4 adults and have worked out the JR pass will not provide me with significant savings (is this correct?) esp in the Kansai region.

    Can you help suggest which passes may be worth considering. Will the Kansai Thru pass help for Nara/Ise/Yoshino?

    And is the Koyasan heritage pass useful for me given I am staying 2 nights and then going to Nara?

    What is the best way route from Nara to Tokyo?

    My itinerary is as follows:
    Day 1 Tokyo (night arrival) plan to buy Suica
    Day 2 Tokyo (full day)
    Day 3 Tokyo to Kanazawa
    Day 4 Kanazawa (full day)
    Day 5 Shirakawago
    Day 6 Kanazawa to Kyoto
    Day 7 Kyoto (full day)
    Day 8 Kyoto (full day)
    Day 9 Kyoto to Mount Koyasan
    Day 10 Mt Koyasan (full day)
    Day 11 Mt Koyasan to Nara
    Day 12 Nara (full day)
    Day 13 Nara to Ise (Day trip)
    Day 14 Nara to Mt Yoshino (Day trip)
    Day 15 Nara to Tokyo
    Day 16 Tokyo return home (night)

    Many thanks for your service.

    1. Hi Mimi san,

      JR pass does not work for your trip. Single ticket is the best choice for long transfer mostly.

      Single ticket is recommended for Tokyo to Kyoto with stopover at Kanazawa and Kyoto to Tokyo. Please see the link below to find the info about single ticket.

      You may use Kansai thru pass 2 days for day 9 and day 11. Koyasan world heritage ticket is valid for only 2 days and it does not work.

      You can take Keihan railway from Kyoto to Yodoyabashi, subway to Namba from Yodoyabashi and then take Nankai railway from Namba to Koyasan. All trains are covered by Kansai thru pass.

      When you go to Nara, you can take Nankai railway to Namba and take Kintetsu railway to Nara. All trips are covered by Kansai thru pass too

      But you need to have one more deal which is Kintetsu rail pass. Ise is not in the coverage area of Kansai thru pass. Only Kintetsu rail pass covers it. Yoshino is not covered by Kansai thru pass fully. Kintetsu rail pass is better choice. You can take Kintetsu railway to get Kyoto when you go to Tokyo.

      When you go to Ise, I recommend you to pay limited express fee. There is no direct trains from Nara to Ise. But if you pay limited express fee, you can catch the train to Ise at Yamato-Saidaiji which is a few stations away from Nara. If you take only ordinary train to Ise, you have to change the trains three or four times and not realistic choice.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thank you so much Takeshi-san. Your information is everything I needed and more!

        I wasn’t aware you could do a stopover on a ticket from Tokyo-Kanazawa-Kyoto so thank you for that tip!

        Thank you also for the tip to get to Ise from Nara. Your advice has been invaluable, thank you so very much!

      2. Hello Takeshi – san,
        We are going to Japan in less than 2 weeks.
        I am getting myself rather confused, trying to figure out whether a 14 day JR pass is the most appropriate thing to get.

        I am travelling with my family. 2 adults and 2 children, ages 13 and 10yrs.

        We will be away for 19 days and this is our itinerary.

        Tokyo 4 nights
        -Day trip to Nikko

        Hakone 3 nights

        Osaka 5 nights
        – Day trips to Kobe/Nara/Kyoto

        Hiroshima 2 nights

        Return to Osaka 2 nights

        Tokyo 2 nights, then fly out.

        I have read somewhere about the Kansai pass. Would this be appropriate for us?
        The Shinkansen that are covered from Osaka to Tokyo, are they express?

        If we buy the basic JR pass, are we able to book seats?

        If you are able to make any recommendations, that would be incredibly helpful.


        1. Hi Therese,

          JR Pass covers most part of your trip, like Shinkansen among Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima. You don’t need to add any “Kansai” deals. But you may need to add local deal, such as subway pass in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka because JR pass does not cover subway and city bus. Please see the links below to find the coverage of JR pass in the cities.

          In Hakone, JR pass is not useful. You can get Odawara but after Odawara, you need to add Hakone Free Pass.

          In Hiroshima, you can take sightseeing bus by JR pass.

          This bus is covered by JR pass full and also you can take ferry to Miyajima by JR pass.

          JR pass covers reserved seat fee. You can book your seat by JR Pass without any extra. But mostly you need to do it after you arrive in Japan. Please see the link below:


          Takeshi /

  9. Hi Takehsi,

    We will travel to Tokyo on 1st of August till 10th.
    On 4th we would like to go to Mt. Koya and stay there one night in a temple.
    What´s the best and cheapest way to reach the Koyasan? I would like to go directly from Tokyo.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      There is no direct ways to get Koyasan from Tokyo. If you take trains, you have to change trains at least three times.

      Tokyo (Shinkansen) Shin-Osaka (subway) Namba (Nankai railway) Gokurakubashi (cablecar) Koyasan

      JR pass is recommended for Tokyo to Shin-Osaka return.

      And need to add single fare for subway around 200 yen and use Koyasan World Heritage Pass.


      Takeshi /

      1. Perfect, thanks!

        And what about coming back from Mt. Koya to Tokyo and making stop in Mt. Fuji? (we also want to stay there for one night and then come back to Tokyo)
        I have found this travelling route but I wanna check if this option has sense or not 🙂

        Koyasan-Gokurakubashi-Shinimamiya-Osaka-Kyoto-Shizuoka-Fuji (5 transfers is quite a lot, but still not problem if we reach the goal)

        Thank you again for your help!

  10. Hi Takeshi

    Would you kindly advise on which travel pass combination for my itinerary.

    Day 1-3: Arrived at Tokyo International Haneda, in Tokyo.

    Day 4: Hakone. Intending to purchase Hakone Free pass.

    Day 5-7: Start JR pass. To kyoto. Day 7 to travel to Nara for a day trip.

    Day 8: Koyasan, stay at Shojoshin-in (566 Koyasan, Ito-gun, Koya-cho 648-0291, Wakayama Prefecture). Can you advise how do I get from kyoto to Koyasan? Any pass I need to buy separately?

    Day 9-11: Osaka. Would also like to know the route from koyasan to Osaka

    1. Hi Alison,

      Are you going back to Tokyo after you stay in Kyoto, Koyasan and Osaka? If you leave from Osaka, JR pass is not your choice. Single ticket is cheaper.

      When you go to Koyasan from Kyoto, you need to go to Namba or Shin-Imamiya in Osaka. There are a few ways to go to Shin-Imamiya or Namba. The easiest route is taking JR trains from Kyoto to Osaka and Osaka to Shin-Imamiya. But if you don’t use JR Pass, Kansai thru pass is the best choice for trip to Nara and Koyasan.

      This pass does not cover JR trains. You should take Keihan railway (via Yodoyabashi) and Osaka subway (via Umeda)or Hankyu Railway and Osaka subway to get Namba.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi

        Thank you for your advice.

        From Tokyo i will go to hakone and stay for a night. Use Hakone free pass back to Tokyo before proceeding to Kyoto and stay for 2 nights. After Kyoto I will head to koyasan for a night and go to Osaka for 2 nights. I will fly out from Nagoya so I will have to travel from Osaka to Nagoya.

        So is it still good to use the JR pass?

        1. Hi Alison,

          Single ticket is still a bit cheaper. Actually even Tokyo-Osaka round trip fare is a bit cheaper than JR pass 7 days price.
          If you use JR pass to get Hakone, JR Pass will work. In this case, take Shinkansen to get Odawara by JR Pass and then purchase Hakone Free Pass at Odawara. This round trip will help to get the worth JR Pass. I’m not sure you can make Hakone, Kyoto, Osaka, Koyasan and trip to Nagoya in 7 days. But if you can, this is only way to get the worth of 7 days JR pass.


          Takeshi /

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