Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Demons Stairway

The Kunisaki Peninsula in Oita remains one of my favorite places in Japan. Taizoji Temple is the starting point of the Kunisaki Minemichi Long Trail, a 135 kilometer trail that roughly follows an old shugendo pilgrimage route. The first group of temples of the Kyushu 36 temple Fudo Myo Pilgrimage are located along, or close to, the trail, so when starting my walk I started from Taizoji.

Behind the temple is a stone stairway eading up the mountainside. Many of the rocks used to construct it are large and it's very much a jumble of uneven rocks because it is said a demon built the stairs in just one night. They lead up to the Kumano Magaibutsu.

Magaibutsu are relief carvings in cliffs or large boulders, and Kunisaki is home to many of them. The Kumano Magaibutsu were carved about a thousand years ago. The largest is of Fudo Myo and is more than 8 meters in height.

The second figure is believed to be Dainichi Nyorai and is more than 6 meters in height. From the magaibutsu the stairs carry on up to a shrine higher up.