NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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大分 五百羅漢 Ooita Gohyaku-rakan The 500 Rakan of Oita

Jp En

Gyoku-ho-dorin, the 15th resident priest of Toko Temple (which has a history of 612 years), asked Yoshino Kakunojo, a Hide stone craftsman, to sculpt 521 statues of rakan. Starting from 1863, it took him 19 years to complete.

The sculpting of the rakan was to gain merit for the local people. Usually rakan do not appear to have human face, but these statues are carved to represent four different emotions, which make them peculiar. Also at this site behind the main building is a bussokuseki (a carved stone foot) called 16 Rakan. It is modeled on a similar one at Todaiji Temple in Nara. The size of this rare bussokuseki is about 48.5cm.

The rakan temple, standing in the harsh rocky mountains, was established in 645 by an Indian monk. Many visitors come here to pray for safety and good work.

Within the cave are over 3777 statues, of which the 500 rakan in the Murodo are the most famous. Standing in the entrance is a statue of the Zenkai monk, which contains his relics.
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興禅院 Kouzen-in Kozenin Temple

Jp En

    Kozenin is the temple where Zenkai, famed for singlehandedly building the Ao-no-Domon (Blue Tunnel), became a priest.  His appearanced in the best-selling novel by Kikuchi Kan, 'Beyond Love and Hata' furthered his fame.
    In 1370, during the Muromachi period, Muchaku Zenshi founded Kozenin at the foot of Mt. Tsurumi (located in Beppu).  In 1469, the temple was moved to its present location.  There were 29 branch temples by that time.  In 1596, a big earthquake destroyed the temple, but just four years after, Hosokawa Tadaoki, the local feudal lord, rebuilt it.  Following that, three fires destroyed the wooden temple buildings.  In 1973,  another fire occurred and the next year, the main building and priests living quarters were rebuilt out of nonflammable materials.
    Kongo-rikishi statues stand on both sides of the gate, protecting the sacred space from enemies.  These statues bring an unique atmosphere to the area.  In addition to this pair of guardians, there are historical stone Buddha statues that are also worth seeing.  This entire area is surrounded by the peaceful calm of Yufuin's nature.
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青の洞門 Ao-no-doumon Ao-no-domon (Blue Tunnel)

Jp En

Ao-no-domon is a tunnel located at the foot of Mt. Kyoshuho on the Yamakuni River in Hon-yabakei-machi- Kiso, Nakatsu City, Oita Pref. About 250 years ago, the priest Zenkai, who dropped in at this place on his way traveling throughout the country, witnessed travelers and horses had difficulty or sometimes lost their lives in walking on a precarious path beside the steep cliff and decided to dig out a tunnel for safe traveling. He completed this tunnel with only a chisel and a hammer devoting as long as 30 years of his life. The tunnel has now a length of 342 m and has been improved for cars to run through. There traces of chiseling and a window for letting in the light still can be seen on the wall, from which we can infer the priest Zenkai’s strong will. His story is well known through Kan Kikuchi’s novel “Onshu no Kanata ni.” Later the toll was charged for passing the tunnel and it is said that this was the first toll road in Japan.
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仙の岩 Sen-no-iwa Sen-no-iwa Rock

Jp En

Sen-no-Iwa Rock and Kyushuhou, or 'the Blue Tunnel', are a representative group of Yamataikoku rock scenery. Kengadake Rock is especially famous for its massive and imposing size. The soaring rock appears like mountain scenery in a traditional ink painting.

This area is also where mountain religion is practiced and there are holy rocks and temples on the sheer 100m-high cliffs. At first, the area was known as Sen-no-iwa ('mountain hermit rock') because in ancient times, a mountain hermit from India dwelled here.

Sen-no-iwa rock looks impossible to climb; yet people ascend to the peak from where there are views of Mt Yufu and Tsurumi. Also, in spring, the scene of cherry blossoms in the small park is unforgettable.
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"Nippon-kichi" leads you to places, people and things that reveal a certain Japanese aesthetic.

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