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

When I stayed in my parents place near Osaka, I had two days trip to Mt. Koya (Koyasan) and Wakayama. Actually I had never been to Koyasan before this trip. This was very memorable trip. I really would like to tell you how I felt in Mt. Koya. I also got on many interesting trains. If you are a train lover, you will be impressed.

Nankai Railway Koya line between Koyashita and Koyasan, and also Cable Car are closed at this point due to the damage by heavy rain storm in mid October.It may take a long time to fix. Substitute bus service is available between Hashimoto and Koyasan but it is limited. Please see the link below to find more information:

Train Operation Status

Departing from Namba

I started my trip from Namba station.

Nankai Railway is most common way to get Mt. Koya. I went there on Saturday and I expected busy day. I left Namba station in very early morning

Namba station 07:12(Nankai Railway Express)08:03 Hashimoto

I had Kansai Thru Pass two days because I had two days trip to Mt. Koya and Wakayama.

Kansai thru pass, map and discount coupon

But if you visited Mt. Koya only, you can purchase Koyasan World Heritage Ticket at 2,860 yen.

You can purchase Koyasan World Heritage Ticket at the ticket window in advance or travel day.

This ticket is valid for two days. But you can get the worth by one day trip easily. If I paid regular fare on the spot, the following costs are required.

2,520 yen for the return fare between Namba and Koyasan by Nankai Railway and Nankai Koyasan Cable Car
330 yen for Koyasan station to Okunoin-guchi by Nankai Rinkan Bus
220 yen for Okunoin-mae to Senjuinbashi by Nankai Rinkan Bus
380 yen for Daimon to Koyasan station by Nankai Rinkan Bus
Total 3,450 yen

As you see, Nankai Railway fare, Cable car fare and one way bus fare to Okunoin-guchi are almost equal to Koyasan World Heritage Ticket. You must use this ticket for trip to Koyasan. This ticket is valid for two days. Of course you can use it for overnight trip.

Koyasan World Heritage Ticket

Actually there is Koyasan World Heritage Ticket with one way limited express train fee to Koyasan is available. This deal is not shown in the link above. But it is sold at 3,400 yen in Japanese site. But you can take limited express train to Koyasan only. You cannot take limited express train from Koyasan to Namba. I think the demand of limited express train from Koyasan to Namab is higher than Namba to Koyasan. Because most of travelers are tired on the way back. They want to take more comfortable train. I think Nankai railway want to sell limited express train ticket to Koyasan more than to Namba. That is why the deal is available only to Koyasan. However it does not match the customer’s demand in my opinion.

In my plan, I took the cruising train “Tenku” from Hashimoto to Gokurakubashi. I took the ordinary express train to Hashimoto from Namba.

Express train to Hashimoto

Sometimes “Express” train is different from ordinary train. But Nankai railway’s express train is a sort of commuter’s train. It has only long bench seat. I was on this train for about an hour to get Hashimoto where is located at the base of Mt. Koya.

Trip by Tenku to Gokurakubashi from Hashimoto

The train set of Tenku

Hashimoto 08:30 (Nankai Railway “Tenku” 51) 09:09 Gokurakubashi 09:14 (Nankai Railway Cable Car) 09:19 Koyasan

At the end of Hashimoto station platform, there is Tenku reserved seat ticket exchange window. I went there to pick
up my ticket.

Tenku is not well known in foreign tourist market. Because online booking is not available even in Japanese. We need to make a call to book. When I called to book a seat, I felt the reservation staff could speak Japanese only. Nankai railway does not introduce this train in any foreign language in official site. Probably this train may be filled up by local tourist.

There are a few trips of Tenku running between Hashimoto and Gokurakubashi. I took the earliest one but it was almost sold out. The second departure was sold out when I called.

Tenku came to the platform. I got on the train. This train is four cars formation. But two of four cars are ordinary fleet. You can take these two cars in this train by base fare ticket only. The other two cars are specialize fleet. This two cars are called “Tenku”. All seats are reserved seat. You cannot take these two cars without booking.

If there are seat available, you can book at the booth just before departure time. You can try if you are interested in this train. Tenku has arrived at the platform. I got on the train.

In the carriage of Tenku, all seats are towards to the valley side. There are two rows and the second row seats are a bit higher to offer better view.

Interior of Tenku

There is the open air observation deck. All passengers who have reserved seat ticket can enter this deck.

Observation deck does not have window. But in case of bad weather, this compartment is closed.
The view from observation deck
The view from observation deck

The track runs on very steep hills and sharp curves. Wheel and rail make lots of squeaky noise. This segment between Hashimoto and Gokurakubashi is known as one of the mountain railways in Japan.

After I enjoyed 40 minutes mountain train ride, Tenku arrived at Gokurakubashi.

Trip by cable car from Gokurakubashi to Koyasan

Gokurakubashi has a ticket gate but there is not any residential areas around the station. This station is existed as transfer point between train and cable car. I changed train to cable car.

Walkway from train platform to cable car platform
Cable car platform at Gokurakubashi station

And I was on the cable car for another 5 minutes from Gokurakubashi.

And then, I arrived at Koyasan station.

However Koyasan station is away from the center of Koyasan. There is only one store around Koyasan station. I needed to take a bus to get the center of Koyasan.

It was foggy when I got Koyasan station.

Continue to the post, “Two days trip to Koyasan (Mt. Koya) and Wakayama from Osaka, Part 2 – sightseeing in Koyasan

2 thoughts on “Two days trip to Koyasan (Mt. Koya) and Wakayama from Osaka, Part 1 – Namba to Koyasan”

  1. Hi Takeshi, since the Nankai Railway Koya line and Cable Car are closed for repair, wondering what is the alternative mode of transport to access Koyasan from Osaka?

    1. Hi James,

      Substitute bus service is available between Hashimoto and Koyasan. But there is no timetable available. Even Nankai railway official site in Japanese does not mention any timetables. It says the following:

      Trip time is 1.5 hours in weekdays and 2.5 to 3 hours in weekend from Hashimoto to Koyasan.
      The number of bus is very limited. Waiting time may be long.

      You can reach Koyasan but it may be longer trip than usual.


      Takeshi /

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