Translated by Shinji Takaramura
Tottori's Power Spots - Feel The Healing Power Of Nature
Tottori Prefecture is famous for places which are said to have mystical powers such as the Mitokusan Sanbutsuji Nageiredo and Ōgamiyama Shrine Okunomiya. This article introduces their highlights.
Written by MATCHA-PR
There are various power spots (places with mystical powers) related to Shinto and Buddhism in Tottori prefecture.
Among them, Mitokusan Sanbutsuji Nageiredo, located near Kurayoshi in Central Tottori, and Ogamiyama Shrine Okunomiya, located in the hills of Daisen, a popular sightseeing spot in Western Tottori, are the most famous.
This article introduces the charms of these two power spots.
Mitokusan Sanbutsuji Nageiredo: The Most Dangerous Power Spot in Japan
A Sacred Ground Since the 8th Century
Central Tottori is famous for sightseeing spots such as the Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory, where visitors can enjoy the world of Detective Conan, and the Shirakabe Storehouses (White Wall District), which conveys the image of the Edo and Meiji periods. Mitokusan (Mt. Mitoku) is located at a thirty minute bus ride from JR Kurayoshi Station, a transportation hub in this area.
It is said that Mt. Mitoku became a training ground for shugendo (*1) practitioners in the eighth century.
Nageiredo, a temple located at 520 ｍeters above sea level in Mt. Mitoku, is known as the most dangerous national treasure in Japan.
The temple stands deep in the mountains, a difficult location to transport building materials. Like the pyramids in Egypt or Machu Picchu in Peru, the construction of Nageiredo still remains a mystery, so it is called the "mysterious temple."
*1 Shugendo: a syncretic set of religious beliefs combining Buddhists and Shinto ascetic practices. Shugendo has spread in various areas all around Japan.
Mount Mitoku Official Site: Mt. Mitoku
Rules of Worship at Mt. Mitoku
Shugendo, which believes that "deities dwell in nature" and "humans are a part of nature", highly regards the natural environment.
When climbing Mt. Mitoku, visitors are asked to purchase straw sandals at the reception. This is a safety measure, as well as a means to preserve the environment of the mountain. Mountain-climbing boots are also allowed, but they must be of the studless type.
Before the climb, visitors don a wagesa (*2), with the word rokkon shojoh written on it. "Rokkon" is a word for the five organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and hand) and the mind. The climb to the Nageiredo is viewed as a training to cleanse one's impurities and sins.
Because the climb to Nageiredo can be dangerous, visitors are only allowed in groups. Also, to keep your hands free, any belongings should be stored in a rucksack. Visitors can borrow free rucksacks at the reception.
*2 Wagesa: a stole used by a Buddhist priest. Visitors can also wear it across their shoulders.
The Climb to Nageiredo
The visitors enter through a small gate, cross a river, and start their climb.
The path is steep and tends to be slippery after rain, so the visitors should be careful.
There are spots such as Kazurazaka, where the visitors must hang on to tree roots, and Kusarizaka, where they have to use chains. Be careful not to break the tree roots at Kazurazaka during the climb.
After passing these spots, Monjudo, where the surrounding mountains can be viewed, and Jizodo appears. The Nageiredo is a few moments away from here.
A Story of Death and Resurrection
The route to Nageiredo is a metaphor for death and resurrection.
The river symbolizes the line between life and death. The steep path is the world after death. By conquering this route, it is believed that visitors will be cleansing their impurities and sins.
Monjudo and Jizodo, which appear at the end of the path, are a place of great wisdom, longevity and benevolence. Kannondo, a small temple built into the cliff near Nageiredo, symbolizes the uterus, the place where one's new life begins.
The climb to Nageiredo represents a transformation of an impure and sinful human being into a Buddha. After conquering the precipitous route, visitors should feel a sense of accomplishment, like they have reached a new stage in life.
Misasa Onsen (hot springs), located near Mt. Mitoku, used to be a place of rest for the Shugendo followers. So it might be fun to stop by the hot springs after a visit to the Nageiredo.
Misasa Onsen Official Site: Misasa Onsen Ryokan Cooperative
Ōgamiyama Shrine Okunomiya: Three of Japan's Tops
A Power Spot Located Near Mt. Daisen
Daisen is a popular sightseeing spot in Western Tottori. Ōgamiyama Shrine Okunomiya (inner sanctuary), is located near Daisen-ji Temple, the main attraction of this area, which used to be a training ground for Shugendo followers.
The Approach to the Okunomiya
The approach to the Okunomiya, about 700 meters long, is the longest approach in Japan paved with natural stones. The path runs through a deep forest, and is said to have a therapeutic effect on visitors.
Along the approach, there is a chozuya (*3) with a sign reading "gojinzui of longevity." Taste the gojinzui (magical water), and the goshintoku (*4) will be with you.
*3 Chozuya: a washbasin at a shrine, for cleansing one's hands and mouth.
*4 Goshintoku: a blessing from the deities.
The main shrine, built in the style of gongen zukuri, is the largest of its type in Japan.
Interior columns are decorated by byakudan nuri, a technique of applying lacquer on top of silver leaf, creating an image a golden leaf. The main shrine boasts the largest scale of byakudan nuri in Japan. Another must-see item is the series of drawings of flowers and birds, 234 in all, on the ceiling.
See the Mystical "Golden Gate" (Kinmon) on the Way to Ōgamiyama Shrine
Along the way to Ōgamiyama Shrine, there is a sign that reads kinmon, showing a side road. Follow this road, and a river bank appears.
The bank is called Sai no Kawara, which is a name for the place where the dead dwell before moving on to the afterlife. Towers made from small stones are erected at this bank, to comfort the souls of children who died young.
A waterfall runs through a crack in the rock nearby. At the time of summer solstice in June, the sunset shining through the crack creates a "golden gate" (kinmon), and the people believed that the gate was connected to the deities.
If you have the chance to visit Okunomiya, be sure to visit this spot as well.
For more information please check the official website of Tottori Prefecture: https://www.tottori-tour.jp/en/
Please also check out our articles in the Tottori section.
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