Kurokomichi Trail: The Pilgrimage to Mt. Koya

Mount Koya (or more often “Koyasan) is one of the most important religious sites in Japan. While there are many different ancient trails to get there, the most famous, is the Kurokomichi Trail.

Not only did Toyotomi Hideyoshi use this trail, but throughout the centuries, thousands used the Kurokomichi Trail to reach Koya-san. The trail became a World Heritage in 2016.

Kurokomichi Trail

Kurokomichi Trail starts from Jofukuji Temple in Hashimoto. The total length of the trial is 18km through the mountain trail to Koyasan. All in all, it will take 7-8 hours to get to Koyasan. Compared to the Choishimichi Trail, which is probably the most famous trail to Koyasan, the Kurokomichi meanders a lot more. 

Jofukuji Temple. Starting point of the Kurokomichi Trail to Koyasan
Jofukuji Temple [定福寺]. The stone pagoda in the temple was built in 1285.

As the starting point is close to Hashimoto Station, I strongly recommend loading up on snacks and drinks before you go. There are no vending machines near the station– never mind you will be in a convenience store desert. 

Jofukuji Temple – Mjyojingatawa -Ichitairabashi

Hashimoto Station is almost an hour away from Nankai Namba Station. From the station, Jofukuji Temple is only 20 minutes along the Kinokawa River. 

From Jofukuji Temple, Kurokomichi begins. The trail begins as a mountain trail, but it soon cuts through a little community. Here, you can get a panoramic view of the Kisen Alps, the mountain chain standing between Osaka and Wakayama.

Into the mountains, we go!

There are signposts every 500m so you should be able to stay the course. Signs numbered 1 through 26 will take you to the Kotsugi Pass. After that, the Kurokomichi Trail merges with a different trail and continues another 5km.

Sign post number 2 on the Kurokomichi Trail
Signpost no. 2
View of the Kisen Alps along the Kurokomichi Trail.
The Kisen Alps. I think the Kimitoge Pass is just below.

The long mountain trail goes up to Myojingatawa for about 450m. At first, you might think to yourself  “Well, maybe the first part is bad, but it will smooth out soon.”

But let me tell you, that is not the case here.  

Gokenbataiwa Kannon on the Kurokomichi Trail
Gokenbataiwa Kannon
Kobo Ido spring on the Kurokomichi Trail
Kobo Ido. Kukai, the founder of Koyasan, allegedly used this water to pray
It is a nice walk in the mountains.

Once you at last reach Myojingatawa, the trail starts to descend. This is the hardest part of the Kurokomichi Trail, but thankfully now it is over.

Perhaps, one of the best things about hiking this trail is that it is easy to follow, even though it often intersects several other trails. You just have to find the markers for the Kurokomichi when you do not know which way to go.

Going down to Ichitairabashi from here
wild and rambling
Almost there

On the way down from Myojingatawa is Ichitairabshi. Here you will find the Niugawa River. If you walk along this river, you can get to Koyashita Station (but it is more than 10km from here…)

The Niugawa River

Kurokomichi Trail Halfway Point: Ichitaira Bashi – Kubo Elementary School – Kotsugi Pass

From Ichitairabashi, once again the trail starts to climb up. At first, it is nothing but a paved road but soon it turns into a mountain path to Kubo Elementary School.  

On the way, we had a minor accident: a couple of unleashed dogs. The dogs came to us and were very friendly. Because of their good nature, I imagine they must belong to somebody. 

I found great humor in this encounter as I remembered the story of how when Kukai, the founder of the temple in Koyasan, was wandering these very mountains, the god of Koya turned himself into two dogs and led him safely to Koyasan.

Can you see the dog ahead?
Ichitairabashi Bridge on the Kurokomichi Trail
Crossing Ichitairabashi Bridge
Japanese judas tree in Ichitaira Kasuga Shrine is said to be 300 years old!
Already signpost 13. Almost halfway
There is a little shrine in the center.

Kudoyama Mori no Dowakan, formerly Kubo Elementary School, is a little library in the middle of the forest. However, it is only open during weekends. 

Jizo in Kubo
Kubo Elementary School

At this point, we start another steep hike up. The trail forks here: one goes through the Kuroko Pass and one goes through Taikozaka. The Kurokomichi goes towards Taikozaka and then up to the Kotsugi Pass.

Once we cleared signpost 25 the trail at last began to even out. 

It is a very narrow road like this
Yup. Definitely bear country out here.
Great view from between the trees!
The crossroad to Mt. Yukiikeyama on the Kurokomichi Trail
The crossroad to Mt. Yukiikeyama. A steep climb up to Yuikiikeyama.

At last, we reached the Kotsugi Pass, meaning we are nearing the last leg of the trail. On the pass is the little jizo called Kotsugi Jizo with an inscription dating back to the Muromachi Period. Just goes to show how old the Kurokomichi Trail is…

Shortly after meeting the jizo, we reached the very last signpost, number 26. From here, the Kurokomichi Trail merges with the Koya Sanzan Trail and goes straight to Koyasan. 

Kotsugi Pass

Kotsugi Pass – Mt. Tenjiku

After the Kotsugi Pass, the trail was much smoother. While nobody was walking on the Kurokomichi Trail itself, several people were enjoying hiking in the surrounding forest. 

In this section of the trail, you will find additional signposts that number 35 – 52, but are not necessarily 500m apart anymore. 

A much more comfortable hike now.
Ipponsugi tree. A 700-year huge cedar tree.

Maybe the toughest part is around the top of Mt. Tenjiku. Mt. Tenjiku is a 915m high mountain, but since we were already about 9oom up, it wasn’t very long at all.

The last part of our climbing on this trail. Phew!
top of Mt. Tenjiku on the Kurokomichi Trail
From the top of Mt. Tenjiku.
Finally, I came out from the mountain!

Korokomichi Trail Final Stretch: Kurokoguchi – Koyasan

After Koyasan Forest Park, the trail goes through a small neighborhood near Nakanohashi Reien and then heads toward the main area of Koyasan. 

Right before the city hall of Koya Town is the bus stop for Uguisudani. Around here is Kurokoguchi, the end of the official end of the Kurokomichi. Once here stood one of the gates to the sacred site of Koyasan. Women were also no longer permitted to go any further past this gate.

Now there is only a sign that indicates that the Kurokoguchi existed. 

The sign of Kurokoguchi on left
The Kurokoguchi, the end of the Kurokomichi Trail
It reads “Kurokoguchi. This is the end of the Kurokomichi Trail”.

Now, it is only a few minutes walk to the Danjo Garan, the main temple of Koyasan.

It was a long 18km walk from Hashimoto. It almost took 8 hours without any break.

We walked several trails to Koyasan including the Choishimichi and the Kyo-Osaka-michi so far, but both of them were quite nice, easy hikes. But if was a more vigorous hike, take the Kurokomichi Trail! 

Danjo Garan. The main building of Mt. Koya

Information: Kurokomichi







Getting To

HashimotoThe trail head, Jofukuji Temple, is 20 minutes away from Hashimoto Station Nankai Koya Line. It takes 60 minutes from Namba. 




Price Range




Make sure to bring a bear bell when you walk on Kurokomichi Trail!!

Also, there are no bathrooms on this trail!

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