Tokyobling's Blog

Mount Takao – Jinbendo

Posted in Nature, Places by tokyobling on December 22, 2013

Mount Takao is not only popular due to its beautiful nature but also for its many spiritual and religious aspects. It is said to be inhabited by tengu, winged mythical creatures, as well as all sorts of spirits, demons and mystics. Even before you reach the Buddhist temple on top of the mountain your path will take you past several buddhist statues and even one little mini-temple, the Jinbendo very near the main temple. The Jinbendo is dedicated to the mountain mystics, apothecaries and hermits that devoted themselves to spiritual experiments in Japan’s semi-mythical past. The most famous of these was a man called Ennogyoja, who in 699 A.D. was said to have been banished to live alone on a mountaintop for his alleged powers of black magic. During his stay he enrolled the services of two demons, a husband and wife, who helped him in his daily life. The husband demon seated on the left holds an axe with which he chops wood for Ennogyoja and clears his way while his wife, the demon holding a vase of water, helped with other domestic chores. The demons had no choice but to obey their orders or risk the displeasure of Ennogyoja. His power and knowledge made him quite a reputation and even though he had been banished, one of his students was elected the top apothecary of the royal court in 734. Followers of his mystical teaching called themselves followers of the Shugendo and formed a peculiar mystical religion that was a mix of buddhism, taoism and shinto. They believed in testing themselves and putting themselves through trials and experiments to enable themselves to become one with god, and many lived as mountain hermits, alone. In 1613 the Shogun ordered the followers of Shugendo to join up with an established temple, and since then the religion has been closely associated with buddhism. There are still people practicing Shugendo around the world, but many believe in keeping a low profile. They call themselves Shugenja and about the only time you will see one is when they embark on one of their mystic pilgrimages. From reading about the things they submit themselves to, I would imagine that they are very fit.

On the side of the Jinbendo is a lot of miniature wooden geta, symbolizing the traditional footwear of the mountain mystic, but these are the geta of the Tengu. The normal geta has two “toes”, or wooden blocks, whereas the winged Tengu spirits have only one (and for the record, the highest class of courtesans had three).

I suspect that the red leaves of the trees on Mount Takao has already fallen for this year, but if you are in Tokyo in November next year I recommend that you visit to see the wonderful nature.

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9 Responses

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  1. Cathryn said, on December 22, 2013 at 4:56 am

    The leaf photos are amazing!

    Like

  2. Hope Tours & Safaris Africa said, on December 22, 2013 at 6:27 am

    looks beautiful, with those sun rays through the leaves

    Like

  3. Allen Capoferri said, on December 22, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Nice.

    Like

  4. Emily Cannell said, on December 22, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    “Tokyo in a Box”- one of my favorite expressions for Mt T- because it has everything!

    Like

  5. yudhistira14 said, on March 16, 2014 at 9:38 am

    First time to Japan, the first time riding Mountain peak, The Mount Takao. And so much fun

    Like


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