This previously strict training site is now a popular spot for relaxed pilgrimage
Mount Ikoma is on the border between Osaka and Nara Prefectures. At 642 meters high, it is not a very tall mountain, but huge boulders roll down it, and since long ago it has been a training site for mountain priests (ascetics) who forge their spirits by hiking on the mountain. Hozan-ji Temple is on a site at the belly of Mount Ikoma, with a great view of Nara basin. Backed by a rock cliff called Hannyakutsu are temple buildings such as the main temple, temple dedicated to Shoten, and temple where religious picture tablets are hung. These create an austere atmosphere.
The Hozan-ji Temple enshrines a Bliss God idol with an elephant head and human body, which is one of "Japan's Three Great Sacred Gods." India's elephant headed god Ganesha is the origin of the Bliss God, which is also called another name: "Sacred God." This god is not seen much in Japan. It brings profits in business prosperity, so Hozan-ji Temple is popularly known as "Ikoma's Sacred God," and 3 million people come to pray here each year. Mount Ikoma used to be a place of strict discipline, but now a cable car operates, so it is also pleasant for visitors. This Bliss God idol is not made publicly visible, so visitors are not allowed to see it.
Address: 1-1 Monzen-cho, Ikoma City, Nara
Hours open to visitors: 8:00 to 17:00 (8:00 to 16:30 in winter), main shrine and front shrine are always open
Admission Fee: Free entrance fee
Directions: Take the Ikoma Cable Line from Kintetsu Ikoma Station (40 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station) and get off at Hozanji Station. The temple is 10 minutes walk from there.
(Car) 15 minutes from Ichibu Interchange on the Daini Hanna Toll Road