From a distant past Ikoma mountain range has been deified as a place where a deity and mountain ascetics live, and people who lived near the mountain had a feeling of awe. An awe-inspiring cave made up of huge and strange stones is said to have been the place where ascetics made a transcription of the Wisdom Sutras written in Sanskrit, and dedicated it. In this cave, a distinguished Buddhist priest referred to as Kobo-Daishi is said to have went through rigorous training in his youth according to a legend of this temple.
About three hundred years ago, a priest named Hozan Tankai who was born in Ise prefecture was excellent at performing incantations to awaken the spirit of a guardian deity of Buddhist law. When he stayed in a temple in Edo, people in Edo experienced a disastrous fire, and the temple was burnt down. So he came into his own by reciting healing prayers with a view to rebuilding the temple. Surprisingly, because of his magical power, money and building materials got together out of nowhere.
In 1678 Tankai entered Ikoma mountain range with some disciples to build a temple with the cooperation of the village. One year after that, the temple was built and he carried out burning 80,000 small sticks of wood on the altar to invoke divine help.
Tankai revered a deity named Shoten as a guardian god in the mountain, went through a lot of training, and aimed at creating a pure land there. He was also excellent at sculpture and the basic knowledge of making a Buddhist painting. Many works including the main object of worship in this temple are said to have been made by him, and these works have been handed down from that time. The precinct of Ikoma was perfected within about 10 years, and he changed the name of the temple to Hozanji. Tankai had accumulated ascetic trainings and burnt 100,000 small sticks of wood to attain Buddhahood while still in the flesh.
Word got around that there was a distinguished ascetic in Hozanji temple on Ikoma mountain range. The supreme minister at that time heard the rumor, and Tankai cured a swelling on him by way of incantation. Emperor Higashiyama and Tokugawa shogun Ienobu recognized him by word of mouth. Tankai lived up to their expectations for a healthy baby and a peace during a successor’s throne. Many commoners and merchants following Sumitomo family came to pay a visit to this honorable temple.
From then on Hozanji has flourished greatly, and dubbed as” Ikoma’s Shoten-san”, attracting many people’s attention, who seek spiritual benefits gained in this world.
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