Koyasan was founded by Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai), a man considered something of a saint across Japan for his contribution to religion, and a genius for his artistic nature, engineering and other accomplishments. He is without a doubt one of the most influential people in Japan’s religious and cultural history, and is also a central figure in the history of Kyoto.
Kobo Daishi founded Koyasan in 806 after spending 2 years learning about Buddhism in Chang-an, the capital of T’ang China at the time, and a city that became the very model for the design of Kyoto. In this short time, Kobo Daishi mastered the teachings of orthodox Esoteric Buddhism, and became the 8th patriarch of this sect before bringing these teachings to Japan.
As Kyoto was the capital of Japan at the time (it had been from 794), Kobo Daishi brought these teachings back to the city, where he set up his temple and the Shingon sect in the city’s mountains (current Jingoji