Mount Koya, or Koyasan 「Kōya-san/高野山」 is a magical World Heritage site in the mountains of Wakayama Prefecture. The areas is part of the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range. The Koyasan area has over 20 historic sites for the tourist to visit. The grounds surrounding many of these sites are open 24/7 to the public, giving tourists great access at night and dawn.

Traditional Japanese Stone Lanterns at Danjo Garan, Koyasan

Traditional Japanese stone lantern at Danjo Garan, Koyasan「石燈籠 / ishi-dourou」
HDR photo of Traditional Japanese stone lanterns at Danjo Garan, Koyasan「石燈籠 / ishi-dōrō」

The general name for traditional Japanese lanterns of all types is tōrō. The stone version, found here at Danjo Garan in Koyasan is called ishi-dōrō 「石燈籠」.

At this great site in Koyasan, the lanterns are scattered around the various buildings and among trees. As the sun starts to set (this photo was taken at dusk) the lanterns come to life. Providing a nice contrast to the harsh spotlights that illuminate the massive stupa (the vermilion coloured building in the background) the electric lanterns add a subtle glow to the darker areas of the site.

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View this location (GPS coordinates: 34.21302,135.579199) on Google Maps.

Although it is a bit of a mission to get to Koyasan (train, cable car then bus), the atmosphere of the small town here is so authentic, if it wasn’t for the vending machines on the street you could be walking through Edo Period Japan.

The area pictured, Danjo Garan, is open 24/7. The site can easily be accessed on foot from the town center, or you can hire a bicycle to get here quickly.