The twelfth temple, Shosanji, is the first mountain temple of the pilgrimage and the first classified as difficult to reach. It is at almost 800 meters in a wonderful setting of giant cedars that on the day I was there were poking into the clouds.
Shosanji means "buirning mountain temple" and refers to the founding legend which has the famed ascetic En no Gyoja, credited with being the founder of Shugendo, subduing a fiery dragon on the mountain and then founding the temple in the late 7th Century. A hundred years later Kukai came to the mountain and did the same thing. The Kukai legend, not surprisingly, is more common nowadays.
The temple now belongs to the Shingon sect and the main deity is Kokuzo Bosatsu.
Kokuzo Bosatsu is a "wish granting" buddha and was very important to Kukai in the early stages of his path to enlightenment when he was chanting the morning star mantra. Kokuzo is associated with venus, the morning star, and dawn.
Shosanji is the second highest of the 88 temples, and for me at least the temple itself was overshadowed by the forest around it.....