A sacred mountain and temple complex with a history of more than 1,300 years
Located in Misasa-cho, Tottori-ken, Mt. Mitoku is a sacred mountain and temple complex that holds a significant historical and cultural value in japan. With a history of more than 1,300 years, Mt. Mitoku is considered one of the three sacred mountain asceticism sites in the country. It is a place of pilgrimage for travelers seeking spiritual enlightenment and a deeper connection with nature.
Renowned for its breathtaking views and challenging hiking trails, Mt. Mitoku offers an adventure of a lifetime for those who are willing to embark on the journey. The main highlight of the mountain is the Sanbutsuji Temple complex, which is located at the uppermost part of the mountain. To reach the temple, visitors must undertake a short but challenging hiking course that tests their physical endurance and determination.
The climb to the Sanbutsuji Temple, also known as the Nageiredo Temple, is considered one of the most dangerous treks in Japan. The priests of the temple proudly refer to it as “Japan’s most dangerous National Treasure.” While the temple itself is not dangerous, the hiking path leading to it is somewhat precarious. However, despite its inherent risks, the ascent and descent to the temple are almost always completed without incident.
The dangerous nature of the pilgrimage to Mt. Mitoku is an essential component of the visit. It is believed that by embarking on a hazardous journey, one’s senses will be honed and improved. This training is referred to as the “Way of the Ascetics,” and it is said to bring about spiritual growth and enlightenment.
Before starting the hike, visitors are required to take off their shoes and enjoy the views from the veranda of the Monjudo Temple. This temple provides a serene and tranquil atmosphere, offering a moment of reflection before embarking on the challenging journey ahead. As a ritual, visitors are also encouraged to ring the two-ton bell to announce their presence to the mountain gods and seek their blessings for a safe journey.
To reach Mt. Mitoku, visitors can use a combination of train and bus, or plane, train, and bus travel options. The closest transport point to Mt. Mitoku is Kurayoshi Station, which is located on the JR West Sanin Main Line. From the station, visitors can take a bus from Bus Stop No. 3, which will take them to the mountain in approximately 40 minutes. Alternatively, for those traveling from Tokyo, there are flights available from Haneda Airport to Tottori Airport. From Tottori Airport, visitors can then take a bus to JR Kurayoshi Station, which takes about an hour. Another option is to take a bullet train from Tokyo to JR Kyoto Station and then transfer to the Super-Hakuto Express to Kurayoshi Station. From Osaka, visitors can take the Super-Hakuto Express from JR Shin-Osaka Station to Kurayoshi Station.
It is important to note that the ability to climb Mt. Mitoku depends on the weather conditions. After snowfall, it is not possible to climb to the upper temples due to safety concerns. Additionally, parts of the mountain cannot be climbed alone. If traveling alone, it is advisable to ask fellow hikers for permission to join them in order to ensure safety.
The name “Mitoku” itself holds significant meaning in Buddhism. It represents the three primary virtues of Buddhism: wisdom, renunciation, and judgment. A pilgrimage to Mt. Mitoku is said to purify one’s six roots of perception, which are the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. It is believed that by undertaking this pilgrimage, one can attain a higher level of spiritual enlightenment and deepen their understanding of Buddhist teachings.
Upon arrival at Mt. Mitoku, visitors are required to register and pay a fee to continue their journey. The hiking trail begins behind the Sanbutsuji Temple, where visitors can also purchase waraji sandals if the tread of their shoes is deemed insufficient. Cotton gloves are optional but recommended to protect hands during the climb. Visitors are also given a ceremonial sash to wear during the climb, adding to the spiritual and cultural significance of the pilgrimage.
As visitors ascend the mountain, they are greeted by a lush and vibrant valley. The path is adorned with roots and lianas, creating a mystical and enchanting atmosphere. The climb becomes steeper as visitors approach the Monjudo Temple, which is located on an angled rock-face. To reach the temple, a series of chains are provided to assist climbers. Once at the temple, visitors can take off their shoes and walk around the veranda, offering them stunning panoramic views of the lush valley below. On a clear day, it is even possible to see the lower slopes of Mt. Daisen and the Oki Islands in neighboring Shimane Prefecture across the Sea of Japan.
Continuing along the path, visitors will encounter steep ridges and bamboo groves, immersing themselves in the natural beauty of the surroundings. Finally, as they turn the final corner, they will be greeted by the Nageiredo Temple, which is situated at the entrance of a cave. This architectural marvel is truly one-of-a-kind, representing the rich history and cultural heritage of Japan.
Legend has it that in the late seventh century, the Japanese mystic En no Gyoja threw three petals of a lotus into the air, declaring that they would fly down to places related to gods and Buddha. One of these petals landed at Mt. Mitoku, solidifying its status as a sacred and spiritually significant site. Today, visitors can still witness the beauty of the lotus flowers that bloom in the area, symbolizing purity and enlightenment.
In conclusion, Mt. Mitoku is a sacred mountain and temple complex that offers a unique and awe-inspiring experience for travelers. With a history of more than 1,300 years, it holds a significant place in Japanese culture and spirituality. The challenging hiking trails, breathtaking views, and rich cultural heritage make it a must-visit destination for those seeking spiritual enlightenment and a deeper connection with nature. Whether it is the perilous journey to the Nageiredo Temple or the serene moments of reflection at the Monjudo Temple, Mt. Mitoku offers a transformative experience that will leave a lasting impression on visitors.
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