I was drawn to this place by the photo that best represents it on the Internet - a temple with a cascading waterfall in the background. It's located in Izumisano though, which is quite a distance away from downtown Osaka - travelling by JR from Namba to Hineno takes about 50 min, after which a 20 min bus ride will take you to the foot of the mountain.
Here's a tip on buses in rural Japan - Do check the bus schedule for your return trip when you alight at the destination. There maybe only a bus every hour or no service at all in the late afternoon, and the weekday bus schedule is different from the weekend one. Also, do not expect every bus to have a change dispenser, so do set aside some coins - always have a coin purse for spare change, so that you will not panic after spending everything in the wallet down to the last cent. Alternatively, buy a drink or a snack at the train station with a thousand yen note and get plenty of change.
Legend has it that a hunter was hunting on the mountain one day and was was in great peril when he was stalked by a snake. Luckily for the hunter, his dog barked furiously at the snake, and sacrificed itself while protecting his master. Hence the name Inunakisan, which means dog barking mountain.
Hiking halfway up the mountain is not too difficult; regular track shoes will suffice. I always wear a long sleeve tee and a light jacket as I dislike insect repellent. Proceeding further up the mountain after visiting the temple may be a bit strenuous, and also do note the bus timing for your return trip.
Along the way, you will pass a few bridges, streams and waterfalls. In all there are 48 waterfalls, some of which are where practitioners of Shugendo修験道 train. Shugendo, or mountain asceticism, is a blend of the native Shinto religion and Buddhism. Building physical endurance is regarded as a path to enlightenment, hence practitioners (修験者 /修行者 Shugenja/Shugyosha) engage in austere feats of endurance such as sitting/standing under cold mountain waterfall or even in snow.
Before you start thinking of standing under any waterfall yourself or pack a change of clothes to go all wet and wild in the summer heat, do note that this is prohibited. Kindly respect the sanctity of the mountain. However, if you really want to try this Shugendo practice, there is a 1 day training program on the 3rd Sunday every month. For more information, click here.
I couldn't quite believe my eyes while peering into the gate of this temple compound. Standing right there is a huge statue of 不動明王 Fudo Myo-o. I had never come across the deity's statue of this scale in an open setting. I did see a large wood carved statue in an indoor museum though, which of course, prohibits photography.
Fudo Muyo-o is one of the 5 Wisdom Kings. He carries “kurikara” or devil-subduing sword in right hand (also represents wisdom cutting through ignorance and used to combat the three poisons (greed, anger, ignorance); holds rope in left hand (to catch and bind up demons and evil); often has third eye in forehead (all-seeing); often seated or standing on rock (because Fudo is “immovable” in his faith).
On a slope you can see a few dog statues and a tablet that says this is the grave for the loyal dog in the legend. However there is no visible steps to access the grave and I'd advise against trekking up the slope, not just for your safety but I believe the grave is meant to left undisturbed.
The main temple building houses a prayer hall and also a booth that sells amulets and other items. Do look out for the wooden statue of Kurikura -Fudo muyo, which depicts a dragon winding itself around a sword. The seven treasures in the name of the temple 七宝瀧寺 refer to 7 renowned waterfalls in the mountain, which corresponds to the 7 treasures in Buddhism. A path from the rear exit leads to the Gyoja waterfall 行者の滝. There is a small token admission fee - simply drop the required amount into the collection box.
Standing on the bridge, gazing at the sights around you while hearing the sound of the cascading waterfall, now that is quite an experience. The natural serenity will envelope your senses, irregardless whether you are of another religion or an atheist. Usually only a few visitors trickle in and stay only for awhile, so staying there for 30 minutes should allow you take ample photos and videos unhindered. Do accord space to devout believers whom will circle the statue and stone tablet while chanting prayers.
Most people go to Inunakisan as a day-trip, some do stay overnight at the hot spring. I'd recommend that you have an early lunch, head to Inunkisan, then in the evening head to Rinku Town which is just 5 minutes away from JR Hineno, where you can shop and dine, before heading back to your accommodation in downtown Osaka.