I decided to visit Hozanji on the way back home on the final day of using the Kintetsu Rail Pass. Mt Ikoma is merely 20 min ride away from Namba via Kintetsu, bordering Osaka and Nara prefectures. If your are looking to experience a mountain hike in the region, this is actually more accessible from downtown Osaka than Mt Rokko.
From Ikoma station, I took the cable car up to Hozanji station. The temple is about halfway up the mountain, and further hiking up is possible but I shall excuse myself this time as my knees need a rest from all the travelling for the past few days. (When travelling by ropeway or cable-car, do look up information on the operator. If it is owned by a railway company, purchasing a ticket will not be necessary if you are using a tourist pass such as the Kintetsu pass) One of the cable cars looks like it belongs to an amusement park, and in actual fact, there is indeed one right at the top of Mt Ikoma.
The main shrine precinct hosts a variety of halls, statutes and altars, which should interest any photographer. The most eye-catching of all is the 朝日宝塔 Asahi houtou. The pagoda is very intricate but one can only appraise it at a distance. Each level of the pagoda houses various buddhas.
Walking up another flight of steps brings one into the forested area full of grave stones and statues, which will lead to the 奥院 okuin. Usually a temple with sprawling grounds have a hall which is located further away from the main hall.
On September 23 each year, the Ikoma Shoten Equinoctial Lantern Ceremony sees the mountain paths and steps lined with vast numbers of lanterns and candles. It is said that at sunset, the temple and surrounding town may well remind you of the Studio Ghibli film Spirited Away. I hope to update this post with more pictures should I be able to make a trip to Hozanji on that day.