Mount Koya (高野山, Kōyasan) is the center of Shingon Buddhism, an important Buddhist sect which was introduced to Japan in 805 by Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai), one of Japan's most significant religious figures.Kukai spent two years studying esoteric Buddhism in Xian, China and is a mythical figure in Japanese history, credited with inventing the hiragana script, as well as being a distinguished scholar, court official, poet, linguist and calligrapher.After being granted permission by the Emperor Saga to build a Shingon temple complex and religious retreat on Koyasan, work began at the site in 816.
The Banryutei rock garden in Kongobuji Temple is the largest in Japan with 140 granite stones arranged to suggest a pair of dragons emerging from clouds to protect the temple.
Kondo Hall is supposedly the site where Kukai gave his first sermons and is regarded as one of Koyasan's most sacred places .
Reihokan is a museum treasure house containing works of art from the temples on Koyasan.
The exhibits, paintings, statues, mandala and other religious artefacts such as vajra (ritual sceptres) and rosary beads, are recycled five times a year.
North of Kongobuji is the Nyonindo Temple, on the road to the cable car station. Women were not allowed into Koyasan until 1873 (though the practice of prohibiting their entry continued until 1916) and this small temple marks the spot where women could worship but proceed no further.
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