Winters on Japan’s Pacific coast, while cold enough to snow, often don’t result in much of the cold stuff. Sometimes however, a big blow comes up from the south and coats everything. Roads become slippery-dips, stairs become death-traps, and Shinto Shrines become even more gorgeous than usual.
Hozanji shrine in Ikoma is a sprawling, mountain-side complex that resembles the monk town of Koyasan. At any time of year it has a wonderful atmosphere – a mix of smokey spiritual and earthly optimistic. This is one of the big, business shrines where people come to pray for more money flowing in – and often will spend big to ensure the spirits are listening. The stone markers lining the walk into Hozanji have cost some donors half a million dollars.
In snow, Hozanji is gorgeous, but treacherous! Bring hiking boots! The slick, granite stones and numerous staircases make for adventurous sightseeing. Snow is pretty unusual in Ikoma however, especially to this extent, so it was a unique, if occasionally terrifying experience.
Snow, rain, sun, fall-leaves, summer humidity – whenever! – Hozanji is a beautiful shrine in any season and well worth a visit. Best yet, there is a convenient cable car from the station, so that when there is an unreasonable level of weather around, visitors can slide on through without too experiencing it too much.