koya-san is considered the home of the gods and was founded by kukai (空海). in this area there are many shrines, including niutsuhime shrine (丹生都比売神社) and niukanshoufu shrine (丹生官省符神社). the character “ni” (丹) in both of these shrines’ names means vermillion. in ancient japan, vermillion was believed to have supernatural powers against evil. that is why many temples and shrines in japan are of this color. one of its other uses is for planting statues of buddha. jison-in (慈尊院) temple is next to niukanshoufu shrine.
both shrines are part of the koya-san entry in the UNESCO world heritage sites list and relatively close to one another.
the shrines are about 1:15 south of osaka in wakayama prefecture. the trains will get you close to the shrines, but from the station you will have a few options to reach them. to get to niukanshoufu shrine, take the nankai-koya-sen (南海高野線) from namba station (難波駅) to koya-guchi station (高野口駅). you will have to change trains and to the JR line at hashimoto station (橋本駅). the express train will cost 670 yen to hashimoto, then you need to buy another ticket for 180 yen to get to koya-guchi. don’t take the super express train, as it costs 500 yen more and is only 10 minutes faster.
to get to niutsuhime shrine do the same as above, but get off two stations later at myoji station (妙寺駅). this ticket is 200 yen.
from koya-guchi station you can take a taxi or walk the roughly 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) to niukanshoufu shrine. if you have water with you and your hiking shoes, you can do a 2.5 hour hike. there’s about a 400 meter (440 yard) elevation change.
if you want to go on a hike, which happens to be a pilgrimage route, then this is a very good option. it is one of the shortest and easiest routes with relatively good access.
from myoji station you only have two viable options to arrive at niutsuhime shrine. take a taxi for about 2,200 yen or ride a shuttle bus for 150 yen. it only runs six times per day, ask at the train station and at the shrine.
niukanshoufu shrine and jison-in temple:
video of all three sites:
- JAL guide to japan
- official websites (no english): niutsuhime shrine, niukanshoufu shrine, and jison-in temple
- UNESCO website