Osore-zan (Mt. Osore)
In the sacred mountain where the spirits of the dead are believed to gather
Large-scale seances are held in summer and fall
Osorezan consists of eight peaks, including Kamabuse, Ozukushi and Kozukushi, and is considered one of the three most sacred mountains in Japan, along with Koya and Hiei. According to legend, the spirits of the dead remain here. The area is designated as Shimokita Peninsula National Park. Its mysterious and dreary landscape has been the setting of many films and novels. Situated in a volcanic zone, the neighboring area is famous also as a hot-spring resort.
In 862, venerable Ennin opened the mountain in response to a revelation in his dream. Because he enshrined Jizo (guardian Boddhisatva of children) for worship, Jizo worship remains the foundation of the mountain even now. There are many highlights, including Chinoike Jigoku (blood pool hell) with a sulfur smell, Sai no Kawara (bed of the river flowing between life and death) and magnificent Usoriyama Lake with Gokurakuhama (paradise beach).
Channels called Itako who provide seances called Kuchiyose (for a fee) live in the mountain. During Osorezan Taisai (grand festival in July 20-24) and Osorezan Akimatsuri (autumn festival for three days in early-October), a large number of Itako gather here but, because many tourists visit, you may have to wait several hours for a Kuchiyose. Visitors can use any of the four hot springs on the grounds for free. There are also accommodation facilities, souvenir shops, and restaurants, which enable relaxed tours in the sacred mountain.
Address: 3-2 Tanabu Aza Usoriyama, Mutsu, Aomori
Phone: 0175-22-3825 (Osorezan Temple Office)
Hours open to visitors: 6:00-18:00 (different during Taisai and Akimatsuri)
Admission Fee: Dmission to the mountain: 500 yen (adults); 200 yen (elementary and junior-high students)
Directions: 43 minutes by bus from Shimokita Station on the JR Ominato Line (5 hours and 20 minutes from Tokyo) to Osorezan. (Car) 2 hours and 30 minutes from Aomori Higashi Interchange on the Aomori Expressway (car parking available).