Are you interested in a mysterious and spiritual place in Japan? If so, go ahead!
Japan’s religion has developed in a complex way, related with Buddhism, Shintoism and many types of folk religions over the centuries. Moreover, there are many gods, so it might look odd if you are a monotheist.
Since the old age, Japanese have believed that each god exists in every natural thing such as mountains, sea, rivers, forests, giant trees and rocks.
For example, people used to pray for a god of rain when they suffered from drought. Look at the painting below that shows the two gods: The Fujin (the god of wind) and the Raijin (the god of thunder). As it shows, people adored those natural elements as the gods who bring blessing rain.
Speaking about gods, shrines of Shintoism are where they live. Do you know that sacred zone of a shrine covers not only its buildings but also its surrounding forests around them? It means that people worship not only gods also the nature where gods are. In other words, people began to think that in mountains there is a god of mountains, and in a river a god of river.
It is very natural that people have stood in awe and respect of the nature in these rich verdurous islands, Japan. That is why the mountain worship (one of the folk religions) was born.
Mount Fuji, Mount Hiei and Mount Kouya are well known as the most worshipped mountains.
What is Osorezan like?
I would like to show you one of the place related with the mountain worship, called Osorezan (Mount Osore).
Osorezan is located in the Shimokita peninsula of Aomori prefecture, in the most northern part of the Honshu Island of Japan. There are bleak rock-fields with sulfur smell as Osorezan is in the volcanic area. So this place makes us think of the next world, the life after death or the hell, where dead people are supposed to go.
This mountain also has developed with the Buddhist belief in the Jizo Bosatsu that helps and soothes all humans’ suffering minds in this world and dead children’s spirits in the other world.
That is why this mountain is a place where people have held a memorial service for dead people since the ancient times. In the folk religion of Shimokita region, it is believed that a soul goes up to this mountain after death.
As this area has an access to the other world, Itako, sprit medium who can speak with dead people’s sprit comes to Osorezan during the festivals so that people can get in touch with their dearest dead people. Usually Itakos are out of Osorezan.
Heres are the must-visit places.
– Sanzu no Kawa (The Styx)
This bridge was constructed based on the Sanzu no Kawa in Buddhism. It is said that dead people cross the river, the border which lies between the dead world and this world. Remember that a good person can cross the bridge, a person who committed minor offence should cross the river walking in the shallow part of the water, and a felonious person must proceed in the swift current of the river, which is hard to arrive.
– Chi no Ike (The Bloody Pond)
This pond was made to represent the hell. The water is red for iron oxide.
Osorezan is just by the beautiful blue lake.(Img: http://poplars.world.coocan.jp/blog/sapporo/assets_c/2011/01/osorezan_01-thumb-380×252-1239.jpg)
Why are there so many pinwheels in the shore? It is because these toys are dedicated to dead children.
Osorezan Taisai is held from 20 Jul to 24 Jul each year. This festival is to soothe the sprits of the dead.
Osorezan Akimatsuri (autumn festival): It is held in the beginning of October.
Osorezan is on the volcano, so there is hot springs with four baths. (Free of charge). Also you can stay in the temple (half board, 12,000 yen).
Open: From 1st May to 31st Oct. 6:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Transport: Half an hour from JR Shimokita Station by bus.