Monday, August 7, 2023

The Approach to Futagoji Temple


Mount Futago lies in the middle of the Kunisaki Peninsula in Oita, and Futago-ji Temple is situated about halfway up the 720 meter high volcanic peak.

From Mount Futago 28 valleys radiate out, one for each "chapter" of the Lotus Sutra, and with more than 32,000 stone statues, one for each character of the sutra, the peninsula is considered a "map" of the sutra and is home to an ancient yamabushi pilgrimage route.

Rougo Manzan is the name given to the syncretic religious system of the area based on a mix of mountain worship along with Usa Hachiman and Tendai Buddhism.

Futagoji, founded in the early 8th century continues to lie at the heart of this system and the area.

A modern road leads up to parking areas closer to the main temple buildings, but the best approach is the traditional one, crossing the Mumei Bridge and then up a long flight of ancient stone stairs passing though the mountain gate, said to be the oldest temple gate in the Kunisaki area.

The pair of stone nio were made in the early 19th century and at 245cms are the biggest stone Nio in Kunisaki. After passing through the gate the path leads past a large pond with a Benzaiten or Suijin Shrine.

On this visit I was on the last day of a 5 day walk crisscrossing the Kunisaki Peninsula hunting Autum Colours. The previous post was a Yasaka Shrine down the road.

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