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Daisen-ji Mountain Temple

  • Mount Daisen has long been a point of Japanese religious practices, starting even in prehistoric Jomon-era Japan with the ritualized worship of nature that eventually became Shintoism. By the 7th century, Daisen had become a center for Shugendo, a mix of ancient worship practices and Buddhism, before becoming a place primarily for the latter with the completion of Daisen-ji, a temple completed in the year 718 and still in use today.

    Daisen-ji Mountain Temple

    Daisen-ji Mountain Temple

    The walk up to Daisen-ji can be slightly intimidating, with many steps and slopes to deal with, but because of the terrain you quickly find yourself in quiet nature and without distractions and reaching the main hall is the perfect reward. Of course, winter can be a difficult time to visit due to weather, and the museum is closed from December through March, but outside of that timing the area is beautiful in every season. Just make sure you have good walking shoes, as with any temple area in Japan.

    Daisen-ji Mountain Temple

    Daisen-ji Mountain Temple

    At one point in history, there were over 3,000 monks living, studying, and worshipping at Daisen-ji (rivaling even Mount Koya), and there are still many artifacts from those days on display. Although the Dainichi-do main hall was destroyed by a fire in 1928 and took with it many priceless treasures, it was rebuilt in the 1950's and is home to a statue of the Jizo Bosatsu, known as Ksitigarbha in East Asian Buddhism. In fact, you can find many Jizo statues across the area in the outdoors, which makes for a mini-pilgrimage of sorts as you walk around.the area.

    Daisen-ji Mountain Temple

    Daisen-ji Mountain Temple

    Inside the main hall you’ll find a spectacular Buddhist altar made of iron in front of the famed Jizo statue, and plenty of gold plating in a glittering, yet austere environment. Sitting next to the hall is a bronze bell created during the Kamakura Period, housed under its own structure, which you can ring yourself by swinging a long wooden pole and hear it echo across the mountains. Given the effort required to make it to the top, combined with the remoteness of the temple itself, you’ll most likely find yourself in one of the more interesting, and undoubtedly peaceful temple complexes you can see during your trip.

    Daisen-ji Mountain Temple

    Daisen-ji Mountain Temple

    There are also other halls that you can walk to, such as the Reihokaku treasure hall which contains many other artifacts and pieces of worship, and each hall has its own style of decoration and ritual ranging from ceiling paintings in the Enryuin sub-temple to consecrated fire ceremonies in the Shimoyama-kannon-do Hall with its eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva. The oldest wholly original structure in the complex is the Amida-do hall, built in the 1500’s and designated an Important Cultural Property of Japan, but which also contains three impressive wooden statues of the Amitabha Buddha carved in 1131.

    Daisen-ji Mountain Temple

    Daisen-ji Mountain Temple

    When the Meiji Era started, there was a conscious effort to distinguish Shinto shrines and their Buddhist temples neighbors, and at Daisen this was particularly difficult given its history of merging religions together. Although technically separate, the Ogamiyama Shrine is within the same complex and is impressive entirely on its own. Among all shrines in Japan, it has the longest stone entrance walkway at 700 meters and the largest gongen-zukuri style architectural design. It’s also a bit of a hike up the stairs to get to, so once you’ve taken in all that Daisen has to offer, hopefully your efforts have appeased the gods enough for the rest of your trip.

    Daisen-ji Mountain Temple

    Daisen-ji Mountain Temple

    Tottori
    Address
    Tottori Pref. Tottorishi Higashihonjichou
    Phone
    Daisenji Temple's Main Hall
    rating 65 Reviews
    Address
    Tottori Pref. Saihakugundaisenchou Daisen 9
    Phone
    0859522158
    Amidado
    Address
    Tottori Saihaku-gun Daisencho Daisen Daisenji
    Phone
    0859522158
    Ogamiyama Shrine Okunomiya
    Address
    Tottori Pref. Saihakugundaisenchou Daisen 1
    Phone
    0859522507
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