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Tohoku | Aomori | Shimokita Peninsula

Osorezan

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Osorezan

Mount Osore (恐山, Osorezan) literally translates to “fear mountain.” Osorezan is an active stratovolcano where its last eruption was in 1787. Its peak reaches 879 meters (2,884 feet) and it is said that at the top is the entrance to Hell. Mount Osore is one of the three sacred places in Japan along with Koyasan and Hieizan. The area around Mount Osore is barren, charred and smells of sulfur gases. The mountain was founded in 862 by a Buddhist priest named Jikaku Daishi Ennin. It is said that he had a vision in his dream telling him to find a sacred mountain that matches the image of the entrance to Hell. He travelled from Kyoto all the way to the Shimokita Peninsula and found Mount Osore, which fit the description perfectly. Jikaku Daishi Ennin then hand carved a Jizo (bodhisattva of Hell and guardian of children) statue and built a hall to enshrine it in. The temple that was built at the base of Mount Osore is called Bodaiji. It is believed that the spirits of the deceased linger in the area before passing into the afterlife. Before the main gate there is a bridge over the Sanzu no Kawa (Sanzu River) where it is believed the dead use to cross over.