Located 695 meters above sea level on the remains of a 15 million year old volcano, Mount Horaiji and Horaiji Temple are considered places of great spiritual power. Famous among locals for its beautiful autumn leaves, the mountain has been designated as a national natural monument and boasts great scenery. A minimum level of fitness is required to climb the 1425 uneven and slippery stone steps leading to the temple. Along the path to the top lies the remains of various small shrines and statues of different deities.
Founded in 703 by the hermit priest Rishu, Horaiji Temple has been visited by many important and powerful rulers in the past. The wandering poet, Matsuo Basho is also said to have visited the mountain on his travels. It is also a popular spot for pilgrimages, especially during the Edo Period. The main building of the temple is said to have been burnt many times, and the present building was completed in 1974. During the popular autumn period, there are frequent buses to the foot of the mountain, though I was tempted to skip the queues like Rishu by levitating to the hot springs, according to the legends at the time.
40 minutes walk or a 10 minute bus ride from JR Hon-Nagashino station.
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I still clearly remember the day I first landed in Japan, and since then it has been my goal to set foot in all 47 prefectures. I try to look for less touristy areas, preferring the countryside to the city. I'm always amazed by the many Haagen Dazs and ice cream flavors available only in Japan.