Mukabaki Shrine located at the southern foot of Mt. Mukabaki in the western part of Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture, is a historic shrine founded in 718 by transferring the deity from Kumano Taisha Shrine in present Wakayama Prefecture. The enshrined deities are Izanagi no Mikoto, Izanami no Mikoto and Yamato Takeru no Mikoto. Being called Mukabakidake Sansho Daigongen (the Great Three Gods of Mt. Mukabaki), the shrine was worshipped by the successive lords of the Hyuga domain.
The huge precinct is covered with densely grown trees, among which the main hall stands in the tranquil atmosphere. The trail up Mt. Mukabaki starts from the precinct.
Mt. Mukabaki (813 m) is a fine mountain with precipitous flat cliff, which looks like a folding screen. It was named so when Yamato Takeru visited this place to conquer the Kumaso tribe and said that the mountain looked like a “mukabaki,” which was a fur to wrap around the waist.
Kumano Nachi Shrine in Takadate, Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a historic shrine. The enshrined deity is Kotosakao no Mikoto and other six deities. Its origin dates back to 719, when a fisherman living in Yuriage in present Natori City discovered a sacred body at the bottom of the sea and enshrined it at the top of Mt. Takadate, naming it Haguro Daigongen Shrine.
Later in the late Heian period, an old shrine priestess in Natori received a message from Kumano Gongen, the deity of Kumano Sanzan in Kii province (present-day Wakayama Prefecture), and decided to found the three shrines composing the Kumano Sanzan in Natori. She transferred the deity at Kumano Nachi Shrine to Haguro Daigongen Shrine, and renamed it Kumano Nachi Shrine.
In the shrine office, about 160 wall hanging Buddha images and copper mirrors, which were made in the Kamakura period (1192-1333), are preserved. Of these, 37 hanging Buddha images and 4 copper mirrors are nationally designated Important Cultural Properties. In the precinct, a huge Japanese conifer tree called “Koya-maki” with a trunk diameter of 112 cm vigorously extends its branches. Presently, the shrine is famous for housing the god of a rich harvest and a bumper catch.
Daisenji Temple located in Daisen, Daisen-cho, Saihaku-gun, Tottori Prefecture is a temple of the Tendai sect. It was founded in the Yoro era (717-723) during the Nara period. The main hall with vermillion pillars and green latticed windows used to be called the Dainichi Hall (the hall that housed the statue of Dainichi Nyorai), which was the main hall of Chumonin Temple, one of the three main temples among over 100 sub-temples that composed Daisenji Temple in the ancient times.
The Amida Hall built in the early Heian period (794-1192) is thought to be the oldest existing building in the present Daisenji Temple. It houses the principal image of Amida Buddha, which is said to have been carved by a master Buddhist sculptor Ryoen. The statues of Kannon Bosatsu and Seishi Bosatsu surround the 2.79 m tall Amida Nyorai. The Amida Hall was destroyed by a landslide in 1529. Later in 1552, it was rebuilt into the present form. The building and the statues inside are designated as National Important Cultural Properties.
Umegase Gorge located in Ichihara City, Chiba Pref. was created by the erosion of the Umegase River, which streams out of Mt. Daifuku and flows into the Yoro River. About 50 m high vertical cliffs are forming a deep gorge. The fault of sand and silt, which was formed about 800,000 years ago, can be seen on the surface of the cliffs. The gorge was named after Tsukigase Gorge in Nara Prefecture by Nobuzane Hidaka, a scholar of the Chinese classics in the Meiji period (1868-1912). At the ruin site of his residence on the upstream of the river, hundreds of huge Japanese maple trees, which were planted in those days, are forming a fine grove. The cherry blossoms in spring are wonderful, but it is far more wonderful in fall, when Japanese maple trees put on autumn colors. The gorge is said to be one of the best places to view autumn tints in the prefecture. As the walking trail is arranged from Yoro-Keikoku Station to the top of Mt. Daifuku, you can enjoy hiking along the river. However, you must be cautious of some steep parts in the upstream.
Mt. Hakusan, located on the border of Ishikawa, Fukui and Gifu prefectures is believed to be the sacred mountain and has been worshipped by the people living in Hokuriku Region. Along with Mt. Fuji and Mt. Tateyama, it is counted as one of Japan’s Three Fine Mountains. The pilgrimage to this mountain was founded by the priest Taicho Shonin in 717, and since then the mountain together with Shirayama Hime Shrine has been worshipped as the sacred place for Shugendo (mountain practice). The mountain has three peaks of Omae-mine, Kenga-mine and Oonanji-mine. The highest peak is Omae-mine with an altitude of 2702 m. It is said that Mt. Hakusan has been active as a composite volcano for 300,000 to 400,000 years. Fossils of dinosaurs have been found in the Jurassic layer of earth. There are a lot of hot springs in this area. The mountain is also known as the treasure box of alpine plants, natural forests and wild animals. There are a lot of steep places in the middle of the mountain, where there are even some unexplored places. The area including the mountain was designated as a national park in 1962. Its pure and beautiful figure still gives strong impression on the visitors.
Yakushi-ji Temple, located in Nishinokyo in Nara prefecture, is one of the two head temples of the Hossou religious sect, the other being Koufuku-ji Temple, one of the Seven Great Temples of Nara. In 1998, the temple was designated as a World Heritage Site. Yakushi-ji was founded by the Emperor Tenmu in 680 to pray for his wife, the Empress Unonosarara-himemiko (later known as Emperess Jitou) to recover from an illness. The temple was initially built in Fujiwara and moved to its present site following the relocation of the capital to Heijou, present day Nara, in 718. Most of the buildings were destroyed by fires from either wars or natural disasters and the only existing building from the original structure is the To-to, or East Pagoda. Other buildings, including the Kondou Main Hall, Sai-to or Wet Pagoda, Chuu-mon or the middle gate, as well as a corridor, were restored after the Showa period. Today, they still capture visitors’ imagination and invoke images of the beauty of the temple during its heyday. In the middle of the grounds of Yakushi-ji stands the Kondou Main Hall. To the east and west of the Hall lie two Pagodas, and behind is the Kodo, or Lecture Hall. A corridor surrounds these buildings. The architectural style of the temple is very unique, so much so that it has been given its own name: “Yakushi-ji Style Arrangement”.
Futago-ji Temple is located on the slopes of Mt Futago, the highest mountain on the Kunisaki Peninsula in Oita Prefecture. The temple flourished as the main temple in Rokugomanzan.
The temple is said to have been built in the second year of the Yoro period (718) by Ninmon-bosatsu, the incarnation of the deity Usa-hachiman. The name of the temple comes from Futago-daigongen, the son of Usa-hachiman. In the Heian period, a unique religion mixing local gods and Buddhism developed in the Rokugomanzan Buddhist area and many temples were founded along the Kunisaki Peninsula.
On the grounds of Futago-ji Temple are a big hall, the Okunoin building, 100 Kannon sattues, the Ninnou statue and mossy stone steps that give you a sense of the past.
The temple area was designated as the Seto Inland Sea National Park as well as one of Oita Prefecture's Historical Places. It is also one of Japan's '100 best places for bathing in woods'. Many people visit the temple throughout the four seasons.
Rurikoji Temple is the fourteenth of 33 spiritual places of Rokugomanzan in the Kunisaki Peninsula, Oita Prefecture. The mountain is called Mt Cedar.
Ninmon-bosatsu established the temple in the first year of the Yoro period (717).
In old times, Rurikoji Temple had many buildings but most of them were burned down. The present temple is said to have been one of the halls from that time.
Yakushi-nyorai is the main deity in the main building; Amida-nyorai and Shaka-nyorai are on the right and left. Of these, the Amida-nyorai statue has been designated as a National Important Cultural Asset. It was carved from the wood of a Japanese nutmeg tree in the late Heian period. The shape is peaceful and soft.
The crepe myrtle in the temple is a very big tree which spans 2m around and rises 15m high. It is said to be more than 600 years old and the best crepe myrtle in Japan.