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”Shugendo” of the Mountains of Yoshino. Putting your Hands Together to Pray ”Kinpusen-ji”

”Shugendo” of the Mountains of Yoshino. Putting your Hands Together to Pray

Yoshinoyama Yoshinocho Yoshino-gun Nara

All Yoshino cherry trees are sacred

The cherry trees of Yoshino are the most famous in Japan. ”Kinpusen-ji” looks over all the sacred cherry trees on its premises.
The founder is the father of ”shugendo”, Enno Gyoja. The main worshipped statue is the Zaougongen, and besides this, Zaoudo, the main temple hall enshrines many other sacred images. The Zaoudo is highly appraised as architecture and has multiple layers of Irimoya-style roof and stands elegantly and grand.
We had already visited Ohminesan-ji , but these two temples were given separate names from the year Meiji 19 (1886). The 2 temples had existed but had both been referred to as Kinpusen-ji. In the Meiji period, the government banned ”shugendo” and also ruled the ”Shintoism and Buddhism separation Ordinance” where Kinpusen-ji was forced into temporary abandonment. Later in the year Meiji 19 (1886) current Kinpusen-ji was restored by the Tendaishu Shugendo sect, however the 2 temples Zaoudo and Ohminesan-ji were kept separate. Although they were originally the same ”shugendo” sacred site, that is how it still stands to this day,

Elevating your soul by sensing the surroundings

In 1948, Kinpusen Shugen Ascetic Sector was proclaimed, and Kinpusen-ji became the head temple with Zaoudo as the center. This temple with the Yoshino cherry trees has been the backbone for people’s faith for over 1300 years.

After returning from Ohminesan-ji, we reported to Kinpusen-ji to receive our ”Certificates of Accomplishment”. Toshinori Tanaka, Chancellor asked ”How was it?”. To this query, Nakata answered, ”I have gone through religious training in Tibet and Bhutan as well, but this was the toughest of all.”
Tanaka explained that ”shugendo” is to train not just oneself but to enter the mountain, revere it, and realize what lives inside us, and to elevate that will in the wild nature, in the world of Mandala.
”To pray refers to sensing your surroundings. In the modern society, you tend to be overly self-conscious. It is far more important to sense something other than your own self, is it not?”
Since the ancient past, the Japanese have always had a deep connection to nature and had discovered numerous things from nature. ”Kinpusen-ji” succeeds this manner through ”shugendo”.


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