A Travel Price Comparison for Japan Koyasan vs. Dewa Sanzan for Attractions, Hiking, Couples, and Food

Should you visit Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Koyasan and Dewa Sanzan. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Koyasan

Koyasan is a traditional, peaceful, and serene town. It offers plenty of small town charm along with sights and activities, too. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. Visitors also love the hiking, museums, and food.

Dewa Sanzan

Dewa Sanzan is a remote, traditional, and religious religious site. And you can't forget about the hiking and museums.

Koyasan and Dewa Sanzan: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Very walkable
  • Small town charm
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good for hiking
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Things to Consider
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Koyasan than Dewa Sanzan, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Koyasan is better known for its museums, food, historical sights, small town charm, and impressive beauty, while Dewa Sanzan is more popular for its hiking and shopping. Koyasan is more touristy than Dewa Sanzan and is popular for its temple complex, spiritual history, and being the birthplace of Shingon Buddhism in Japan. Also, Koyasan is famous for Kongobu-ji Head Temple. Dewa Sanzan is well known for its traditional religion, three sacred mountains, and the Shukubo Pilgrim Lodges.

How is Koyasan different from Dewa Sanzan?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Dewa Sanzan and Koyasan. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan?

Koyasan
Dewa Sanzan

Koyasan is an excellent place to visit for its museums and history. Also, Dewa Sanzan is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its museums and landmarks.

Many visitors head to Koyasan specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. This spiritual destination is filled with temples. Some of the most notable are Okunoin Temple, Torodo Hall, Kongobuji Temple, Danjo Garan, and Daimon (the Great Gate).

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Dewa Sanzan. This is a sacred religious site that is at the heart of the Shugendo folk religion. The religion combines Buddhist and Shinto traditions and there are several temples in the area including the most sacred sights at Yudono-san, Haguro-san, and Gas-san, as well as the Churenji and Dainichibo Temples.


Is the Food Better in Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Koyasan
Dewa Sanzan

Koyasan is very good for its restaurants. However, Dewa Sanzan is lacking in options for its restaurant scene.

Koyasan has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. There are cafes in town that serve simple udon noodle dishes and other local options. If you do a temple stay, it will likely include a meal, which is usually vegetarian and prepared by Buddhist monks. A typical menu includes miso soup, soba, pickled vegetables, tofu, tempura vegetables, rice, tea, and melon. Breakfast is similar but smaller in size.

Dewa Sanzan may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. In your guesthouse you'll be given "Shojin cuisine", which is the traditional cuisine that has been handed down through the generations. It is strictly vegetarian and is heavily influenced by whatever vegetable is currently in season in the area. Traditionally, the cuisine focused on sustenance and not taste, but for the purposes of hospitality, the dishes are more flavorful than is typical in the traditional cuisine.

Is Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan Better for Nightlife?

Koyasan
Dewa Sanzan

Neither Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan offer decent nightlife.

Things get quiet in the evenings in Koyasan. This spiritual town is not a place for nightlife, but it is fascinating to take a night tour of the area.

The nightlife scene is quiet in Dewa Sanzan This is a religious site that is remote and focused on mountain worship and devotion. Nightlife is non-existent in the area.

Is Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan Better for its Old Town?

Koyasan
Dewa Sanzan

Koyasan is an excellent place to visit for its old town. However, Dewa Sanzan does not have a historic old town.

There is a nice variety of sights in the old town of Koyasan. The town center is filled with spiritual temples and many people prefer to do a temple stay for a night.

Dewa Sanzan does not have a historic old town.


Is Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan Better for Hiking?

Koyasan
Dewa Sanzan

Dewa Sanzan is a great destination for its hiking experiences. Also, Koyasan is still popular, but not quite as popular for hiking.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Dewa Sanzan. Experienced hikers can climb Mt. Gassan and Mt. Yudono in one day and do Mt. Haguro separately. For Mt. Gassan, you'll want to take the bus to the 8th station and climb from there.

Koyasan is a good destination for hiking. Most people arrive by cable car, but this area has been a long running pilgrim destination and you'll find many historic pilgrimage trails that are still in the area. The Koyasan Choishi Michi trail is one of the most well known.

Is the Shopping Better in Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan?

Koyasan
Dewa Sanzan

Dewa Sanzan is not so good for its shopping opportunities. However, Koyasan is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Dewa Sanzan has some shopping areas for those that seek them out. This is a sacred sight that is devoted to worship and a simple life. As such, shopping in not available in the area with the exception of a couple of convenience stores.

Koyasan is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan Better for Families?

Koyasan
Dewa Sanzan

Koyasan is very good for its kid-friendly activities. However, Dewa Sanzan is lacking in options for its family-friendly activities.

Koyasan is a family-friendly town. It's filled with history, so its best to recognize your kid's limits when it comes to that sort of thing. If you're planning to do a temple stay, then consider how your child might handle the situation and make sure you reach out to let them know you have a child before reserving.

Dewa Sanzan is not such a family-friendly town. The remote location make this a challenging place to access. It's a religious destination and its sacred and historic past is often lost to children. Out of respect for the strict religion, this site is best visited as an adult.


Is Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan Better for Couples?

Koyasan
Dewa Sanzan

Koyasan is an excellent place to visit for its romantic activities. Also, Dewa Sanzan is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for couples.

Koyasan makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. A temple stay in Koyasan is a truly unique experience that immerses you in the culture and lifestyle of the area. It's a truly one-of-a-kind experience for couples who like to do things outside of the box.

Dewa Sanzan is a good town for couples to visit. Couples who want to do something that's a bit different from mainstream Japan will appreciate a visit to this religious site.

Is Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Koyasan
Dewa Sanzan

Koyasan and Dewa Sanzan are notable places to visit for backpackers and budget travelers.

Plenty of backpackers visit Koyasan. It's not your typical backpacker destination and most visitors prefer to experience a temple stay while in the area. If that's not your style, there is a hostel nearby.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Dewa Sanzan. This is an off-the-beaten-path destination for backpackers, and it can be difficult to reach by public transit. Once you're there, if you want a traditional experience, you can stay at a Shukubo Pilgrim Lodge.

Is Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Koyasan
Dewa Sanzan

Koyasan is very good for times when you don't have a car. However, Dewa Sanzan is lacking in options for its public transit.

Koyasan has some public transit options. To get to town you'll take a cable car and then a bus (or taxi, but you can't walk). Once you're in town, almost everything is in the town center and doesn't require transit.

Public transit is generally limited in Dewa Sanzan. There is public transit from Tsuruoka Station to Mt. Haguro and the accommodation in the area. There are also buses to the top of Mt. Haguro, Mt. Yudono, and Mt. Gassan 8th Station.


Is Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan a more walkable city?

Koyasan
Dewa Sanzan

Koyasan is an excellent place to visit for its high level of walkability. However, Dewa Sanzan is lacking in options for its ease of walking around.

Koyasan is a very walkable town. Once you reach the town its relatively flat and easy to explore on foot.

Dewa Sanzan is generally not very walkable. Everything is very spread out so walking can be challenging. Experienced hikers will enjoy hiking to each of the three shrines.

For even more information, also check out Is Koyasan Worth Visiting? and Is Dewa Sanzan Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Dewa Sanzan or Koyasan?

How long in Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Koyasan and Dewa Sanzan. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Dewa Sanzan than in Koyasan. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Koyasan, and 2-3 days is enough time in Dewa Sanzan.

Families should spend more time in Koyasan than Dewa Sanzan. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Koyasan, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Koyasan than Dewa Sanzan. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Koyasan that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Koyasan than Dewa Sanzan if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Koyasan.


  • How many days in Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan? Ideal Length of Stay
    Koyasan 1-2 
    Dewa Sanzan 2-3

One day in Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan?

Koyasan is a small town with plenty to do. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. One day should give you a good understanding of everything this town has to offer. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

In Dewa Sanzan, you'll find museums. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. This religious site offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

A weekend in Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan?

Koyasan might be a small town, but there's plenty to do in the area. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. This town offers something for everyone. Plenty of people spend a weekend in the area when traveling. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

In Dewa Sanzan, you'll find museums. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Dewa Sanzan has to offer.


Five days in Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan?

Because Koyasan is a small town, it's easy to explore in a short amount of time. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

Dewa Sanzan is a great place to explore. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

A week in Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan?

Since Koyasan is a small town, it's easily explored when your time is limited. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Dewa Sanzan. Many people enjoy the museums when visiting Dewa Sanzan. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in Japan, The Best Historical Tours in Japan, The Best 10-Day Tours in Japan, and The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in Japan.


Which place is cheaper, Dewa Sanzan or Koyasan?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Koyasan is $78, while the average daily cost in Dewa Sanzan is $65. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Koyasan and Dewa Sanzan in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Koyasan $39
    Dewa Sanzan $28
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Koyasan $78
    Dewa Sanzan $56
Compare Hotels in Koyasan and Dewa Sanzan

Looking for a hotel in Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Koyasan


Hotels in Dewa Sanzan


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Koyasan Hotel Prices and Dewa Sanzan Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Koyasan $33
    Dewa Sanzan $22

Is it cheaper to fly into Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan?

Prices for flights to both Dewa Sanzan and Koyasan change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Koyasan $19
    Dewa Sanzan $24

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Koyasan $13
    Dewa Sanzan $9.24

Tours and Activities in Dewa Sanzan

For Dewa Sanzan, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Tsuruoka & Dewa-Sanzan Full-Day Private Tour with Government-Licensed Guide: $229

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Koyasan $4.90
    Dewa Sanzan $7.28


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Koyasan and Dewa Sanzan, we can see that Koyasan is more expensive. And not only is Dewa Sanzan much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Dewa Sanzan would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Dewa Sanzan and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Koyasan would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Koyasan than you might in Dewa Sanzan.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Koyasan Expensive? and Is Dewa Sanzan Expensive?.



When is the best time to visit Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Koyasan as well as Dewa Sanzan. Many travelers come to Koyasan for the hiking, the small town charm, and the family-friendly experiences. Additionally, many visitors come to Dewa Sanzan in the summer for the hiking.

Koyasan is a little warmer than Dewa Sanzan in the summer. The daily temperature in Koyasan averages around 27°C (81°F) in July, and Dewa Sanzan fluctuates around 23°C (74°F).

In the summer, Koyasan often gets more sunshine than Dewa Sanzan. Koyasan gets 183 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Dewa Sanzan receives 124 hours of full sun.

It's quite rainy in Dewa Sanzan. Koyasan receives a lot of rain in the summer. Koyasan usually gets less rain in July than Dewa Sanzan. Koyasan gets 156 mm (6.1 in) of rain, while Dewa Sanzan receives 191 mm (7.5 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Koyasan 27°C (81°F) 
    Dewa Sanzan 23°C (74°F)

Should I visit Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan in the Autumn?

Both Dewa Sanzan and Koyasan are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Koyasan in the autumn for the hiking trails, the small town atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the area. Also, most visitors come to Dewa Sanzan for the hiking trails during these months.

In the autumn, Koyasan is a little warmer than Dewa Sanzan. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Koyasan in October average around 19°C (65°F), and Dewa Sanzan averages at about 13°C (56°F).

Koyasan usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Dewa Sanzan during autumn. Koyasan gets 159 hours of sunny skies, while Dewa Sanzan receives 149 hours of full sun in the autumn.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Dewa Sanzan. It's quite rainy in Koyasan. In October, Koyasan usually receives less rain than Dewa Sanzan. Koyasan gets 105 mm (4.1 in) of rain, while Dewa Sanzan receives 152 mm (6 in) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Koyasan 19°C (65°F) 
    Dewa Sanzan 13°C (56°F)

Should I visit Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan in the Winter?

Both Dewa Sanzan and Koyasan during the winter are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Koyasan for the museums and the cuisine during these months. Also, the winter months attract visitors to Dewa Sanzan because of the museums and the cuisine.

The weather in Dewa Sanzan can be very cold. In January, Koyasan is generally much warmer than Dewa Sanzan. Daily temperatures in Koyasan average around 6°C (42°F), and Dewa Sanzan fluctuates around -1°C (30°F).

In the winter, Koyasan often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Dewa Sanzan. Koyasan gets 140 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Dewa Sanzan receives 149 hours of full sun.

Dewa Sanzan gets a good bit of rain this time of year. Koyasan usually gets less rain in January than Dewa Sanzan. Koyasan gets 45 mm (1.8 in) of rain, while Dewa Sanzan receives 206 mm (8.1 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Koyasan 6°C (42°F) 
    Dewa Sanzan -1°C (30°F)

Should I visit Koyasan or Dewa Sanzan in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Koyasan and Dewa Sanzan. The spring months attract visitors to Koyasan because of the small town charm and the natural beauty.

Koyasan is much warmer than Dewa Sanzan in the spring. The daily temperature in Koyasan averages around 15°C (59°F) in April, and Dewa Sanzan fluctuates around 9°C (47°F).

Koyasan usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Dewa Sanzan during spring. Koyasan gets 176 hours of sunny skies, while Dewa Sanzan receives 188 hours of full sun in the spring.

Koyasan gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In April, Koyasan usually receives more rain than Dewa Sanzan. Koyasan gets 135 mm (5.3 in) of rain, while Dewa Sanzan receives 100 mm (3.9 in) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Koyasan 15°C (59°F) 
    Dewa Sanzan 9°C (47°F)

Typical Weather for Dewa Sanzan and Koyasan

Koyasan Dewa Sanzan
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 6°C (42°F) 45 mm (1.8 in) -1°C (30°F) 206 mm (8.1 in)
Feb 6°C (42°F) 57 mm (2.3 in) -1°C (30°F) 151 mm (6 in)
Mar 9°C (47°F) 102 mm (4 in) 2°C (35°F) 116 mm (4.6 in)
Apr 15°C (59°F) 135 mm (5.3 in) 9°C (47°F) 100 mm (3.9 in)
May 19°C (67°F) 139 mm (5.5 in) 15°C (59°F) 96 mm (3.8 in)
Jun 23°C (74°F) 208 mm (8.2 in) 20°C (67°F) 120 mm (4.7 in)
Jul 27°C (81°F) 156 mm (6.1 in) 23°C (74°F) 191 mm (7.5 in)
Aug 29°C (84°F) 97 mm (3.8 in) 25°C (77°F) 174 mm (6.8 in)
Sep 25°C (76°F) 162 mm (6.4 in) 20°C (68°F) 154 mm (6.1 in)
Oct 19°C (65°F) 105 mm (4.1 in) 13°C (56°F) 152 mm (6 in)
Nov 13°C (55°F) 62 mm (2.4 in) 7°C (44°F) 207 mm (8.1 in)
Dec 8°C (46°F) 35 mm (1.4 in) 2°C (35°F) 231 mm (9.1 in)


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