Exploring Mt. Daisen in Tottori Prefecture

(Signs of Spring)

Hi, I am Sachiyo!

On February 20th, 2021, I showed 2 people from china living in Yonago around Mt. Daisen.

Mt. Daisen can be seen where they currently live, but it had been a few months since they moved here, so it was the first time for them to get closer to the top of the mountain.

First, we went to Tottori Hanakairo Flower Park which is located at the west foot of Mt. Daisen. The mountain is the highest peak in the Chugoku Region which consists of Tottori, Shimane, Hiroshima, Okayama and Yamaguchi Prefectures. People in old days worshipped the mountain as a place where a great god resides and the faith has been passed down until today.

Tottori Hanakairo has several spots which afford a great view of the Mountain. Winter is not a popular season for going to the flower park, but it has several greenhouses,including the iconic dome-shaped one called “The Flower Dome”. The insides of them are very warm with plants and beautiful flowers from the tropics.

In one of the green houses of the flower park, called “The Jungle Dome”, a variety of plant in a remarkable turquoise color known as jade vine was best time to see then. It is a native of the tropical rain forest of the Philippines. I was charmed by the mysterious color of the plant.

Hanakairo has more than two hundred cherry blossom trees and most of them flower in early April. It was too early to enjoy viewing them, but Japanese apricot trees were blooming. They bloom earlier than cherry blossoms and are as beautiful as well.

After visiting Hanakairo, we had a temple meal set for lunch at a shukubo Buddhist temple, Sanrakuso which offers accommodation and meals for pilgrims to the Daisen-ji temple. Temple meal is a vegetarian cuisine which is cooked based on the idea that taking lives of living things is not allowed. It consisted of about ten dishes and various mountain vegetables from Mt. Daisen were used for ingredients. Especially, I liked tempra of spring wild vegetables. Their unique flavor made me feel some signs of spring. The guests also looked amazed by the beautiful and delicious cuisines.

Next, we set out on a short pilgrimage to Ogamiyama Shrine through a narrow pathway stretching upward nearly one kilometer in the natural forest of Mt. Daisen. It was covered with snow then. I often guide guests to the shrine through the trail, and it’s quite a good exercise. With the snow, it was harder to proceed than usual, and it was more like the ascetic training for Buddhist monks seeking for enlightenment.

The magnificent edifice of the Ogamiyama Shrine and its precincts with snow everywhere was stunningly beautiful. One of the guests said that he is very interested in Japanese temples and shrines and looked very excited when we got there. Inside the Hall of Worship of the shrine, he asked me how to offer a prayer and I showed him the way. And then, he solemnly made a prayer.

Mt. Daisen is renowned as a supplier of high-quality mountain water. At the foot of its north face, there are two famous springs and we visited there at the end of the trip. One of them is the Hongu Izumi Springs. The water from the spring flows into a pond with a gazebo. My co-guide Aisa likes having various tea and she brought some tools to have tea using the water from the spring. She also brought locally grown Japanese tea leaves and served some for us. It was a refreshing treat.

At the end of the tour, we asked the guests what impressed them most during the excursion. One said that the pilgrimage to the Ogamiyama Shrine was the best. The other said he liked the Hanakairo Flower Park and the time we had tea at the Hongu Springs. They said that what impressed them were totally different, but they had fun touring around Mt. Daisen, and said they definitely climb to the top of the mountain next time.

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