Only the most committed of merchants, who came to pray for their prosperity, and disciple monks would venture up the steep path to Hozanji Temple. Luckily, for the modern visitor, there is a cable car.
Hozanji Temple is just one of some 300 sites of worship on Mt. Ikoma
The deity enshrined here is descended from the Hindu pantheon
Walking up to Hozanji Temple from Kintetsu Ikoma Station is possible. The walk is 1.5 kilometers with a steep incline and takes about 30 minutes.
For a more leisurely excursion, take the cable car from just outside Kintetsu Ikoma Station.
Perhaps it was because such strong discipline was required to live up on the peak that some of the most revered religious personalities came to study here, the most notable being Kukai (Kobo Daishi). Kukai founded the Shingon school of Buddhism and is credited for having invented the Japanese kana writing system.
Hozanji is considered an interesting temple because of its enshrined god: at this temple the god has the head of an elephant instead of the usual human.
If this sounds like a god from the Hindu faith rather than the Buddhist belief system, it is because the statue at Hozanji is believed to have been inspired by the Hindu god Ganesh.
The entity is so important that most of the time, it is not possible to see it. But simply being in its presence is linked to success in business, wisdom, and joy.
Near the main hall, there is a small path filled with small statues of Jizo and other entities. The carved stone figures look particularly spectacular bathed in soft lantern light during the annual lantern festival on September 23.