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Japan -> Mt. Koya
Mt. Koya  
Wakayama Prefecture

In the heart of the Kii Peninsula sits Mt. Koya, or Koya-san, Japan's most respected Shingon-Buddhist site. Over one million pilgrims a year make the trek through the black cedar to the mountain with an altitude of 3,000ft (900m). In 816 Kukai, the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, established a seminary here that was for an exclusive preserve of monks, and off-limits to women. At one time there were a thousand temples on the mountain, but fires and typhoons have reduced that to about 123. The grandest of the temples sits on the western side of Koya-san, and was built by ToyotomiHideyoshi in 1592. Kongobu-ji is the headquarters of the Shingon sect and is known for its 16th century Kano-school sliding doors.

The mountain is divided into two parts: Danjogoran to the southwest, and Okuno-in to the east. Danjogoran is home to Fudo-do, the oldest building on the mountain, built in 1197, the Konpon Dai-to, a two-story red and white pagoda regarded as the symbol of Koya-san, and Reihokan, the Treasure House. Reihokan houses many National Treasures. Okuno-in is essentially a cemetery, though it is highly regarded to be buried here as evidenced by Japan's power families that rest on the mountain. Kukai's mausoleum is here as well, just north of the Toro-do (Lantern Hall). In the Toro-do 11,000 lanterns burn, with two that are said to have remained lit since the 11th century.

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