I was almost put off visiting Koyasan based on the fact that everything I read about getting there made the whole process seem very complicated, not least the hideously complicated looking map of Namba station in Osaka (see below) which I would have to visit twice – once to pick up tickets if I pre-booked online and again catch the train.
Having made the trip which involved negotiating Namba station three times and three changes of conveyance in each direction I must say that the Nankai Electric Railway, which operates the service, has managed to make what is a fairly painless process sound terribly complicated in its advertising. I hope, herein, I have not managed to do the same!
After a fair bit of research I reached the conclusion that if you are visiting Koyasan for one or two days (I strongly recommend two, though I only went for one) then your should very seriously consider buying a Koyasan-World Heritage Ticket. Personally, I feel it was a no brainer.
Forget about the Limited Express option which costs quite a premium and saves you less than half an hour each way, at best. That said, if for some reason you do want to buy the Limited Express version of the Koyasan-World Heritage Ticket (for an extra Y780 from Namba) note that it includes the Limited Express train one way only and an additional Y780 is payable if you take it in both directions.
You can buy the Koyasan-World Heritage Ticket commencing at either Namba Station in Osaka or from Kansi- Airport Station. We went from, and returned to, Namba. The complete journey time from Namba is around two hours so get an early train especially if you are returning the same day. Non Limited Express trains are unreserved, as is the cablecar. Having the cheaper non-reserved train ticket presented no problem for us in early April as we were two of a handful of people on the train components of the trip.
So what does the World Heritage Ticket include (noting that it is valid for two consecutive days – though you can return same day): –
• Return travel from either Kansi Airport or Namba Station to Koyasan Station. This will most likely involve a train change at Hashimoto Station and at Gokurakubashi Station (the end of the train line) you will have to change from the train to a cable car for the last 5-10mins up the mountain side to Koyasan Station. The connection at Hashimoto involves crossing the platform to a waiting train which does not leave until the Osaka train arrives and at Gokurakubashi Station the cable car will be waiting for the train ( a walk of less than 50 metres). Could not be easier!
• A two day pass for Nankai Rinkan buses in Koyasan – see my separate review on this bus service
• 20% discount on entry to the Reihokan Museum, Kondo (Golden Hall) in the Garan, Konpon Daito (Great Stupa) in the Garan and Kongobu-ji Temple (if you visit them all this is worth Y260 at 2017 prices)
• 10% discount at a number of souvenir shops.
From Namba Y2,860 and Kansai Airport Y3,710. 50% discount for children between 6 and 11. Under 6 free. Prices valid Oct 2017. Interesting to note that the cost has not changed since my actual visit in April 2014.
I believe this represent very good value, particularly if you spend two days (a single day bus pass costs Y830) and visit the four places offering 20% on entry fees. I did neither and still felt it was good value!
While we bought the ticket online and picked it up the day before travel (necessary if you plan on taking an early morning train as the Service Centre does not open until mid morning – from what I can establish) from Namba Station Service Centre on the second floor at Namba Station (pictured) the ticket can be bought at major Nankai railway stations and travel agencies in the Osaka area. Trains depart from the 3rd floor level at Namba.
Please be aware that a Japan Railway (JR) Pass is not valid on the private Nankai Electric Railway or on the Koyasan Cablecar.
Pictures 2 and 4 attached are from the website – http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/koyasan.html
I purchased my tickets from this site and encountered no problems – http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/koyasan.html
Next up a review on the trip to Koyasan.