January 2018.

This is one place I have been itching to get to on previous trips to Japan, but was never quite practical. In fact getting there this time was not easy either, but I made it this time around!

Normally the trip up the highlands from Osaka involves a couple of JR trains, then a private railway to the end of the line, then a final leg up the mountain via cable car, but due to Typhoon Lan last year the end part of this journey was in disrepair and I had to bus it from Hashimoto.
This bus journey was possibly the scariest bus trip I have had...to date. Parts of the road were only single car width and the bus often had to use provided roadside mirrors to see if the way was clear before attempting cornering. Top marks to our driver for getting us there, but made a mental note not to sit right up front on the way home..."what you don't know won't hurt you" reasoning.  The bus trip can take from 1 to 3 hours. We got there in 1.5 hrs from Hashimoto station, so a total of 3.5 hours from my cosy hotel in Osaka.
Cosy it was NOT in Koyasan. Luckily I  stuffed my backpack with all things fluffy and warm and at one point had donned all of these items in an attempt to keep warm.

Once arrived, I got the "hop on hop off bus ticket" and ventured straight to the main reason for my visit. There was patchy snow on the ground from the previous night and my phone was telling me it was 1 degrees Celcius. A scan of the sky told me there was either more snow or miserably cold sleety rain coming at any moment, so no time like the present to get going.

I did this trip alone, since all my family members were "templed out" and the others from the group headed to Hiroshima for the day. I knew the last train from Hashimoto back left at 7ish so made it a point to be busing back down the mountain by 4pm, just before dark.
It would be an amazing place to visit just on dusk, actually I would recommend staying the night and doing the walk through the cemetery just on dusk. Okunoin Cemetery is the number one tourist destination for Koyasan.

All these pics were taken with Iphone7 as I needed a holiday from my Canon (and it needed a break from me!)

The lone monk I managed to stumble into right at the end of the cemetery walk

This was underneath a temple, housing and recharging all the thousands of lanterns that get used around the temples and grounds and cemetery pathways, this is why it would be specie at dusk.

After the walk, and somehow the skies cleared, I ventured back into the main part of the village and grabbed some curry, soup and hot chocolate.
I spent the last hour here marvelling at the architecture and "Kill Bill" style rock gardens with their little raked pebbles and bonsai trees. Most of these temples are ryokans and are available to o/n at, but you must book in advance.

Arrived back in time for the second last train, and back in Osaka for a late dinner.
I am so glad I did this, even though it was way out of my comfort zone and I did it alone (and didn't get lost) it just felt "magical", almost surreal, hmmm now to go back with the Canon....and stay the night.....who's in??