[Kōya, Mt; Kōyasan; Kōyasanji; Kōyasan Kongōbuji]
Japanese Buddhist temple and shrine complex in Ito district, Wakayama Prefecture. Lying about 70 km south of Osaka on Mt Kōya (Kōyasan), a plateau on the eastern slope of the Takamine range, it was founded in the 9th century ad as the headquarters of the Shingon sect (see Buddhism §III 10.) and is one of the two main centres of Esoteric Buddhism (mikkyō) in Japan (see also Enryakuji). At Amano Jinja (Amano Shrine) on the north-western flank of the uplands, Niu Myōjin and Kōya Myōjin, the chief Shinto tutelary deities of the complex, are enshrined. The complex now occupies c. 12 sq. km of hilly terrain, encompassing some 125 structures and housing important art works.
Kongōbuji’s founder, Kōbō Daishi (see Kūkai), had spent the years 804–6 in China studying the system of tantric belief that was to be the basis of Shingon teachings and was seeking a suitable location to perform the religious exercises and Esoteric rituals required by these beliefs. In 816 he received from Emperor Saga (...