Since the dawn of human history, the mountains of the Kii Peninsula have been worshipped as gods. South of the ancient capitals of Kyoto and Nara, the peninsula's forests are still dark and dense and who's to say deities of immense power are not calling to each other when thunder roars and lightning flashes.
That many believe in the mountains' majesty is evident in the area's numerous temples and unusual forms of worship.
Love those Marvel Comic superheroes? Want to be one? Then the Yoshino-Omine mountain range, with its 1,500-meter peaks, is the starting place for your journey.
Ignore the How To Get There on this page: Trains, planes and automobiles simply won't do.
With your sandals and your white robe, start climbing. Sleep under the stars and catch your food if you can--salamanders are said to be tasty. When sufficiently toughened up, search for other like-minded souls. They are out there--monks studying Shugendo, an ascetic practice that combines mountain worship, Shintoism, Buddhism and other elements. Adherents are said to acquire mystical powers and roam the Earth helping the innocent.
There is much to learn, and as a junior acolyte, they may dangle you over a cliff suspended in a rope harness. Now would be a good time to pray to the mountain gods that your friends' fingers don't slip.
Other spiritual spots found in the Kii mountains are Mount Koyasan, housing temples of esoteric Buddhism, and Kumano Sanzan (meaning Kumano's three mountains) shrines, the collective name for three Shinto shrines. Well-trodden paths linking these sites are famous in their own right.
Perhaps the best known is Koyasan, the monastic complex of the esoteric Shingon Buddhism sect, located on Mount Koyasan. The origin of the complex dates back to 816 when Kukai (774-835) was given permission to open a temple. Today, there are 117 related facilities, housing national treasures. Women were once forbidden on this mountain, too, but the ban was lifted in 1872.
Kumano Sanzan is noted for the shrines--Kumano Hongu Taisha in Tanabe, Kumano Hayatama Taisha in Shingu, and Kumano Nachi Taisha in Nachi-Katsuura, all in Wakayama Prefecture.
* * *
To get to Koyasan, take the Koya Line from Nankai Electric Railway's Nanba Station in Osaka to Gokurakubashi Station. Take the cable car to Koyasan Station, a ride of five minutes. The trip is either 100 minutes or 120 minutes, depending on whether you take the express or rapid train. Bus service is available from Koyasan Station to the monastic complex.
To get to the three shrines of Kumano Sanzan, take the JR Kinokuni Line from Shin-Osaka Station. The nearest station to Kumano Hongu Taisha shrine is Kii-Tanabe Station, about two hours by express from Shin-Osaka Station; Kumano Nachi Taisha shrine Kii-Katsuura Station, about three hours and 20 minutes; and Kumano Hayatama Taisha shrine Shingu Station, about four hours. Take buses from the stations to the shrines.
To get to Yoshino, take the Kintetsu Yoshino Line from Abenobashi Station in Osaka to Yoshino Station. The trip takes about 75 minutes by express. Take the ropeway to Yoshinoyama Station.
Check out (www.koya.org/eng/index.html) and (www.wakayama-kanko.or.jp)
- « Prev
- Next »