Mt. Inunaki 0
Mt. Inunaki is home to one of Osaka’s most stunning locations for autumn foliage, backdropped with a sacred waterfall. Mt. Inunaki is not the easiest place to find, but with Nankai Railway and bus services and a bit of guidance, it’s a painless and pleasant trip.
The site is most famous for its waterfall and its temple ‘Inunakisan-Shipporyuji’ or ‘Shipporyuji’ The temple is a holy site in Shugendo, which is a folk Japanese religion where the mountain is worshiped. In Shugendo, monks and pilgrims show devotion by performing feats of endurance. Such feats may include climbing difficult mountains, or standing under a powerful waterfall. In fact, as a site of Shugendo, the waterfall of Mt. Inunaki has a chain running up it, so that pilgrims can perform their feats of endurance. If you are lucky, you may get to observe such a feat when you visit!
The Bus Bound for Mt. Inunaki and Shipporyuji Temple
To reach Shipporyuji’ Temple, first take a train to Nankai Railway’s Izumisano Station. There are direct services from Namba Station; that’s the big building above ground, and not the subway line.
Heading straight out the south exit of Izumisano Station, the bus stop is hard to miss. There is about 1 bus per hour between 07:00. and 19:00, and the ride costs 470 yen. The trip takes about 40 mins, and arrives at the terminal stop, so there is no fear of missing your stop!After getting off the bus, take the path that goes downhill, past the onsen. That’s right, Mt. Inunaki is not only famous for Shipporyuji Temple, but also its onsen. The onsen can be entered by day trippers for 840 yen, and it’s open from 09:00 to 17:00. You can also stay here too.
Walking past the onsen, we eventually go off road and things start to get spiritual. The hike to Shipporyuji Temple is pleasant and not very steep.
At a leisurely pace, it takes about 30 minutes.There are many little shrines along the path, some harder to spot than others. As the path was traditionally intended for those on a pilgrimage to Shipporyuji Temple, it’s good to observe each shrine along the road. The red torii gate marks the entrance to sacred grounds in native Japanese religion, so after passing this gate you are officially in the sacred grounds of Shipporyuji Temple.
Witness the Autumn Colours
About halfway to Shipporyuji Temple, we come across a small temple area. There are a few interesting buildings here, as well as some statues and many stone lanterns. With the vibrant colorful leaves of autumn, it’s an attractive place to take a rest.
After passing a carpark, Mt. Inunaki’s Shipporyuji Temple is only a short walk further up the trail. The instrument that this Buddhavista is playing is called a ‘Biwa’. It’s a Japanese folk instrument similar to a banjo. If you have never heard of a biwa before, listen to it on YouTube, it’s quite unique! Musicians and other artists should make an offering at this statue.
Finally, we arrive at Shipporyuji Temple! The first thing you will notice is the giant bell. You can ring this bell with a 100 yen donation. Considering Shipporyuji Temple is free to enter, it’s a fun way to make a donation. You will also surely notice the towering statue of Fudo Myo-o, the guardian of Japanese Buddhism. Don’t let his angry appearance frighten you! He looks that way as he takes in anger and spreads compassion. I’m assured he is really a nice guy.You will also notice the statue of Jizo, surrounded by the many infants in his care. One of Jizo’s function is to protect the infants, so parents will often pray to him.
Inunakisan-Shipporyuji is the original name of this temple. The name “Mt. Inunaki” actually comes from an interesting tale. In Japanese, “inu” means dog, and “naki” means bark. So here we have “dogs bark” mountain. How did such a name come to be attached to this mountain?
The story goes that a hunter was with his dog hunting, and the dog starting barking. This scared away the deer that the hunter was stalking, and he missed his shot. The hunter became angry at his dog and thrashed it. At that moment, a serpent failed to attack the hunter because of the dogs barking. The hunter felt guilty for thrashing the dog who had saved him, and thus became a monk at Shipporyuji Temple. Upon hearing the tale, the Emperor of Japan declared the mountain be named “Mt. Inunaki”.
After climbing the final set of stairs up behind Shipporyuji Temple, we finally reach the waterfall. As Mt. Inunaki is famous for Shugendo, the Japanese folk religion of mountain worship, if you’re lucky you may see pilgrims standing under its icy cold water. Along with the vermillion red of the shrine and the autumn foliage, the waterfall is truly magnificent. A small 50 yen donation is requested to approach the waterfall, and you can get right up as close as you can brave.
The trail from the bus stop to the waterfall is beautiful, especially in the autumn when the foliage changes to a collage of red, green and yellow. The colours complement the vermillion of the mountain’s shrines and the moss-covered statues. If you are looking to experience an example of Shugendo, Mt. Inunaki is your best bet.
Hi! I am a traveler, musician and student living in Japan. I love traveling to places I don't know much about, and then learning as much as possible whilst I'm there. I spend my spare time at home writing fiction, non-fiction and programs, so I hope you find my articles here both informative and fun to read. I first came to the Kansai region as an exchange student, and through the kind hearts of the local people, the unique cuisine and the relaxed lifestyle, the region will always hold a special place in my heart.