Daiitokuji Temple is considered to be a sacred place for Shugendo, an ancient ascetic religion based on mountain worship that blends elements of both Buddhism and Shinto. Practitioners called yamabushi, which translates to “one who endures in the mountains,” engage in spiritual and physical disciplines to develop spiritual powers. Mountains are considered to be other-worldly, and are training grounds for esoteric Buddhists to practice personal and spiritual self-discipline.
The temple is actually thought to have been established by a founder of Shugendo, and is a sacred site for the practice of what is called “Katsuragi Shugendo.” The name comes from nearby Mt. Katsuragi, which straddles the borders of Nara, Osaka, and Wakayama prefectures, and is thought to be the location where Shugendo was first established. For this reason, there are many training grounds in the area for practitioners, many of which are still used in the present day. They are collectively part of Katsuragi Shugendo.