Katsuragi mountain peaks, which rise in the border between Wakayama, Osaka and Nara are called “Great two sacred places of Shugendo”. It is said that Ennogyoja, the founder of Shugendo first took his training on the mountain. There are 28 Hokukyo Sutra Mounds which Ennogyoja had buried into the grounds. At this time trainees of Shugendo move around the mounds, temples, or huge stones. And the training has been connected deeply among people who live int this land.
“Katsuragi Shugendo”, the sacred place trainees of Shugendo and local people had grown with great care, the history of Shugendo started at this point.
Izumi-mountain range which runs on the border of Osaka and Wakayama, Kongo mountain which rises north to west on the border of Osaka and Nara, peaks of these mountains were called “Katsuragi”, and worshiped by people as many god’s residence.
Enno-Gyoja was born in current Gosho city in the 7th century. He is said to be the founder of Shugendo. And this land is where he first trained Shugendo.
Ohmine mountain in Nara, which is designated world heritage site, is the place to where Enno-Gyoja moved after founding Katsuragi-Shugen. Katsuragi-Shugen was the most important place for Shugendo-trainee and must place to come.
The first sutra mound “Johinkutsu” is located on the Torashima island which is one of four Tomogashima islands facing Kada, Wakayama city. It is only accessible from Okinoshima island at low tide.
Entering into the narrow cave, a stone monument made of granite stands saying “Myo-Horenge-Kyo is the most important!”. In front of the monument, Shugendo trainees blow a conch horn, burn incense sticks, site a sutra and place a “Hide”, or a wooden card. The date and name of the trainee are written on the card.
Besides sutra mound there are temple named ”Mukaeno-Bo” and shrines in connection with Enno-Gyoja, or some of 33 Kannon Temples of West Japan.
In the south-west side of Osaka, religious belief in water has been important. Waterfalls and the places where people pray for rain become training grounds for Shugendo.
There is an office where “Katsuragi-Kanchou”, or the most important ceremony of Katsuragi-Shgugendo will take place in Nakatsugawa town, Kinokawa city. In Edo period, “Shogoin Monzeki” held a Goma-Burning Ceremony here, asked by the Court and the Tokugawa Shogunate. Some families here have been taking care of the places for Shugendo for 1300 years.
Mukai family in Kada has been providing accommodations for Shugendo trainee. A wealthy farmer Oku family in Izumisano city has been providing a rest hall.
Katsuragi Shugendo had been concerned with local people in religion and life.
Many people take training for Katsuragi Shugendo now. Mount Ohmine is a sacred place is prohibited to women, Katsuragi Shugendo welcomes women. Stra mounds and places for training spread out for 112km. Mountain ridge links to the road for training are maintained as “Diamond Trail” which connects Kinki Natural Walking path and Makinoo Mountain, Kongo Mountain and Futakami Mountain.
One-day Shugendo Experience organized by Shipporyuji-Temple in Inunaki Mountain will give you a chance to look back your own behavior and take your first step out into new life!
By Masa Tamura