Yuhidaki is a 30 meter waterfall located in Yamada Town in the northernmost part of Shuzenji Town in Izu City, Shizuoka Prefecture. It flows down in two stages; the upper stage is 20 meter tall and the lower stage is 10 meter tall. The white lines of water flowing down on the columnar joint rock surface, which is typical to this region, are very beautiful. The statue of Fudo Myoo is enshrined beside the bottom of the waterfall.
Double-flowered cherry trees that come into bloom in late April and hydrangea flowers that line the walking trail down to the basin in June offer wonderful color contrasts to the waterfall. In winter, on the other hand, the dashing flow of water freezes to create beautiful ice pillars. You will feel as if time has stopped when you see the sharp tips of ice plunging from above your head and protruding toward you.
Namura Shrine in Ayado in Ryuo Town, Shiga Prefecture, is a historic shrine and a treasure trove of cultural properties since most of the structures of the shrine are nationally designated as either a National Treasure (NT) or an Important Cultural Property (ICP). The origin of the shrine is not clear, but, as many Kofun (ancient Imperial tombs) have been discovered in the area, it is considered that this shrine was originally founded to enshrine the spirits of ancestors.
The Romon gate (ICP) has the impressively huge thatched roof. The wooden statue of Fudo Myoo (ICP) is enshrined in the Fudo Hall in the precinct, which is the reminder of Shinbutsu Shugo (the fusion of Shinto and Buddhism) practiced until the end of the Edo period (1868).
The main hall, Nishi-Honden (NT), was constructed in 969 to enshrine the deity Kunisazuchi no Mikoto, who had resided in Mt. Kongo in Yoshino in Yamato province (present-day Nara Prefecture). The old shrine located on the opposite side of the road is the east shrine, Higashi Honden (ICP), which enshrines Okuninushi no Mikoto and Susanoo no Mikoto.
Namura Shrine is the head shrine of all the branch shrines in 33 adjacent villages; hereby the Grand Autumn Festival is held once every 33 years.
Waterfall purification is performed on January 15 every year at Kozo Fudo Sui Shrine in Ichihasama Nagasaki in Kurihara City, Miyagi Prefecture. The men who have reached their Yaku-doshi (the unlucky ages) and who have attained adulthood participate in the purification.
At around 7:00 in the evening, the men wearing loincloths, straw sandals and headbands march into the precinct of the shrine, carrying the Mikoshi made of straw rice bags. After they offer a prayer for their safety during the purification ritual, they run to the Kozo-Fudo Waterfall and jump into the basin with renewed vigor.
Although the air temperature around the waterfall is about 8 degrees below zero, they stand under the waterfall with a height of 10 m and then soak in the cold water. Their skin turn crimson in no time but they continue offering a prayer for family safety, good health, expelling bad luck, a rich harvest or success in entrance examinations.
When they come out of water, they return to the shrine to report that the purification is over without any accident. Greeted by spectators’ cheers and applause, they take a rest around a bonfire and drink hot Amazake (sweet sake-wine). The ritual has received a favorable comment from the participants that they can feel refreshed when their body and soul are purified.
Kishitsu Shrine in Hino Town in Shiga Prefecture is an old shrine enshrining Gwisil Jipsa (Japanese: Kishitsu Shushi), an exiled nobleman from Paekche.
Gwisil Jipsa was the son of Gwisil Boksin (Japanese: Kishitsu Fukushin), a general of Paekche. When Paekche fell in 660, his father tried to save the nation by raising an army, but the restoration movement was besieged by the Silla-Tang allied forces. Gwisil Jipsa migrated to Japan with 700 men and women and settled in Hino Town. It is said that he was a person of culture.
Being called Fudo-do, the shrine had functioned and had been worshipped as the shrine guarding the west direction of the village until the Edo period (1603-1868). The festivals and rituals of the shrine had been performed by Muroto-kabu, the Miyaza (a specially empowered village guild concerning with shrine festivities) of the village.
In 1429, the shrine pavillion was constructed and it was named Kishitsu Shrine in honor of Gwisil Jipsa, for it is thought that Jipsa was buried in the stone chamber in back of the main hall of the shrine.
It is said that this temple was founded in 794 by the priest Saicho, the founder of the Tendai sect of Buddhism, as the east gate of Hieizan Enryakuji Temple, which had been constructed 6 years before as the headquarters of the sect. When Emperor Kanmu visited the temple, he named it Hieizan Tomonin Moriyamadera, which means the temple guarding the east gate of Mt. Hiei.
During the Edo period (1603-1868), the temple was used as the lodge for Joseon Royal Embassies, the Joseon envoys intermittently sent to Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan. In 1986, the main hall and Kuri (the priests’ quarters) were burned down by a fire. The statue of Juichimen Kannon (Kannon with 11 faces) housed in the main hall was also destroyed by fire. The main hall was reconstructed and the statue was restored to its original form in 1990.
The statue of Fudo Myoo, which is the principal object of worship in Goma Hall and survived the fire undamaged, and the five-story stone pagoda in the corner of the precinct are designated as national Important Cultural Properties. Together with other art objects, they tell us of the temple’s 1,200 year history.
Shinkakuji Temple located in Sanda-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo is a temple of the Chizan school of the Shingon sect. The main object of worship is Fudo Myoo. The temple is the 71st fudasho-temple of the Tama Shin-Shikoku 88 Holy Sites. The temple was founded in 1411. The temple treasure of the sitting statue of Yakushi Nyorai is designated as a Cultural Property of the city. The bell and bell tower are said to have been dedicated by Hachioji Sennin Doshin (junior officials) in 1660.
Shinkakuji Temple is famous for azalea and “Kawazu Gassen (the Frog Concert).” In the precinct is a pond called Shinji-ike in the shape of the Chinese character for “heart,” around which grow a lot of azalea and they are in full bloom in the middle of June. From the middle to the end of March, a lot of toads move to this pond for laying eggs. Though the toads decreased in number today, there used to be tens of thousands of toads got together here, which was called “Frog Concert” by the local people.
Kongoin Temple located in Ueno-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo is a Bekkaku Honzan (a special headquarters) of the Shingon sect. The main object of worship is Fudo Myoo. The temple is the 63rd fudasho-temple of the Kanto 88 Holy Sites, the 16th of the Buso 48 Kannon Sites, the 73rd of the Tama Shin-Shikoku 88 Holy Sites, and one of Hachioji Pilgrimage to Shichifukujin (the Seven Lucky Deities).
The temple was founded in 1576, when the priest Shinsei built a Fudo hall. In 1631, it was restored at this place as a sub-branch temple of Koyasan Kongobuji Temple and Jigenin Temple. The temple buildings were burned down by an air raid in 1945 and rebuilt in the post-war period.
Kongoin Temple is known for a large number of treasures, including the two statues of Jurojin and Fukurokuju of the Seven Lucky Deities, two Rokkyoku Byobu (six-panel screens) of Shihon Chakushoku Koyasan Zue (the illustrated description of Koyasan in color on paper) and Shihon Chakushoku Saiobo-zu (a painting of the Queen Mother of the West in color on paper), both of which are designated Tokyo Important Tangible Cultural Properties.
Yakuoin Yukiji Temple located in Takao-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo is one of the three Daihonzan (head) temples of the Chizan school of the Shingon sect in the Kanto region. The main objects of worship are Yakushi Nyorai and Izuna Gongen. The temple is the 5th fudasho-temple of the Kanto 91 Pilgrimage to Yakushi Nyorai, the 8th of the Kanto 36 Sites Sacred to Fudo Myoo and the 68th of the Tama 88 Holy Sites. As many as 2,500 ancient documents are preserved at this temple.
It is said that the temple was founded in 744 by the monk Gyoki under the order of Emperor Shomu. As the statue of Yakushi Nyorai was placed at the foundation, the temple has been called Yakuoin. Later, a priest from Mt. Daigo in Kyoto founded a mountain practice ashram to worship Izuna Gongen, the deity who is believed to be residing in Mt. Iizuna in Nagano Prefecture. In the Edo period, an organization of mountain practitioners named “Takao-kou” was formed. Since then the temple has been the center of Takao Shugendo practice up to the present time.