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IMAGE: Koyasan (Danjō Garan) (disegno di Fujishima Takeji, 1867-1943)
Mount Kōya is the common name of a huge temple settlement in Wakayama Prefecture to the south of Osaka. In the strict sense, Kōya-san is the so-called "mountain name" sangō of the Kongōbu-Temple, the ecclesiastical headquarters of the "Koyasan Shingon School".
First settled in 819 by the monk Kūkai, Mount Kōya is primarily known as the world headquarters of the Kōyasan Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. Located on an 800 m high plain amid eight peaks of the mountain (which was the reason this location was selected, in that the terrain is supposed to resemble a lotus plant), the original monastery has grown into the town of Kōya, featuring a university dedicated to religious studies and 120 sub-temples, many of which offer lodging to pilgrims. Mount Kōya is also a common starting point to the Shikoku Pilgrimage associated with Kūkai.
Danjō Garan (壇上伽藍), at the heartland of the Mount Kōya settlement. Garan is a name for an area that has the main sacred buildings: a main hall, several pagodas, a scripture storage, a bell tower, a lecture hall, and other halls dedicated to important deities. Here we also find a shrine dedicated to the Shintō-gods of that mountain area and in front of it an assembly hall (Sannō-dō). Danjō Garan is one of the two sacred spots around the Mount Kōya.