Mount Osore on the Shimokita Peninsula is one of Japan’s three most sacred mountains along with Mount Hiei and Mount Koya. Osorezan Bodaiji Temple was founded here in 862. Legend has it that the priest Ennin founded Risshakuji Temple in the mountains of Yamagata after having a divine dream and then came here to found Osorezan Bodaiji Temple. Nestled on the shore of the crater-lake Lake Usori, Osorezan Bodaiji Temple appears cut-off from the outside world. Surrounded by the sparse landscape of Lake Usori and the surrounding mountains, local tradition states that the temple is the final destination for spirits.
Crossing Taiko Bridge to the sacred grounds, the temple precincts are filled with an atmosphere of the afterlife. The beautiful crater-lake is evocative of the Buddhist Paradise while the smell of sulphur is said to provoke images of hell. Melancholic feelings are aroused by the twirling pinwheels and stone piles placed by local parents mourning lost children.
During the annual Osorezan Taisai Festival from July 20 to 24 and the Osorezan Akimairi Festival in early October many people visit the temple to communicate with the souls of the departed through spiritual mediums known as Itako.
Mount Osore is a dormant volcano that last erupted 10,000 years ago. The temple allows visitors to take a free sacred hot spring bath surrounded by the water’s sulphur fragrance. The four bathhouses rotate for use by men and women during the day and mixed bathing is also available. If you are interested in an overnight stay, the temple offers an accommodation facility at Shukubo Kisshokaku. Contact the temple for further information.