Honshu’s northernmost sacred land, Mt. Osore’s Bodai-ji Temple
One of Japan’s Three Sacred Grounds, Mt. Osore has been worshiped by people since ancient times. Bodai-ji Temple was founded in the year 862 by the priest Jikaku Daishi Ennin as a place to study Tendai Sect asceticism. Later in 1457, the temple was abandoned but was successfully restored in 1530, and the temple’s principal image, Enmei Jizo Bosatsu, was worshiped as “The Buddha to save people from various sufferings”. Also known as a place for memorial services for the dead, during the Itako Taisai Festival, spiritual mediums known as “itako” perform the widely-known kuchiyose ritual of delivering messages from the dead.
A desolate area praising the mystery
Mt. Osore, which has been described by the local people through quotations such as “If a person dies, he goes to Mt. Osore” and “As you stay in this world, this is the place where you will approach the other world”, intrigues many people with its distinct mystique at the northernmost point of Honshu and its desolate atmosphere. After passing places such as the striking vermilion arched bridge that spans the Sanzu River which is the supposed boundary between the living and spirit worlds, the desolate and rocky Hell of the Blood Pond, the Endless Hell and every possible hell, if you go beyond the landscape of many piles of rocks known as the Children’s Limbo, you will finally reach the blue Lake Usori with its beautiful white sand dunes. That sight is Paradise itself. It is certainly a mysterious landscape.
A relaxing time at Mt. Osore
At the sacred ground of Mt. Osore, there are many types of hot springs bubbling away. The four bath huts are generally open to the public and can be used for free. There are accommodations operated by temples known as temple guesthouses, and these places are recommended to get that mysterious experience only felt on Mt. Osore. It is at these temple guesthouses that you can try Buddhist vegetarian cuisine and experience prayers with the priests. The rules are a bit strict but it is a special Japanese experience.