. Legends about Kumano .


***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Earth


The ancient Kumano Pilgrims Road
Kumano Kodoo, Kumano Kodō (熊野古道)

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From ancient times to the Middle Ages, the faith instilled by the Kumano Sanzan of Hongu, Shingu and Nachi was at a peak and many believers ranging from emperors and nobles to the commoner made their pilgrimages to Kumano.

In those days, the journey involved much more than crossing steep mountains along tortuous remote trails; it was a path of continual worship along which the traveler cleansed his body and mind in frigid waters of a winter morning and earnestly invoked the help of the Kumano deities and Buddha at every turn.

Now a World Heritage, the Kumano Kodo offers you the chance to imagine what it was like to pilgrimage to Kumano long ago, absorb the history of Kumano and pass it down to future generations.

You will soon arrive at Hosshinmon-Oji, the gateway to the Sacred Land of Kumano. After the hard and painstaking journey, you'll feel purified inside as you climb to Kumano Hongu Grand Shrine.

© The World Heritage "Kumano Kodo"

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Kumano Shrine (熊野神社) is a shinto shrine.
There are many Kumano shrines in Japan.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


Torch Festival, O-too matsuri
御灯祭, お燈まつり, 御燈祭
Held in Kumano, in the town of Shingu at the shrine Kamikura Jinja 和歌山県新宮市の神倉神社.
February 6.
kigo for early spring

Torch Festival, O-too matsuri

minachigasa 皆地笠 minachi gasa
... for the pilgrimage to Kumano

Tokei Jinja 闘鶏神社 (とうけいじんじゃ) Cockfight Shrine
. Benkei Festival -
Tanabe Festival 田辺祭り

observance kigo for the New Year

Kumano renga hajime 熊野連歌始
beginning linked verse at Kumano

. WKD : Renga, renku - linked verse .

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Kumano and Nachi ― and Stone Daruma

. Nachi Black Stone Daruma 那智黒のだるま.

Kumano has been a holy area since olden times and when you travel there, you will soon be enchanted by the power of nature. It has been the training place for mountain ascetics (yamabushi) and is a sacred site to both religions, Shinto and Buddhism.

Here are some of the historical facts.

The Three Shrines of Kumano  熊野三山

. . . CLICK here for Photos !
The Kumano Sanzan Shrines, which consist of Hongu, Hayatama, and Nachi Shrines, become the focus of the religious faith of nobles in the Heian period (794-1185 AD) who believed that the deep and wide-ranging mountainous areas were the world's paradise of the Pure Land. Later, the Kumano worship spread to the samurai warrior class, and in the Edo period (1600-1868), to the general public. Many people made pilgrimages to Kumano. The pilgrimage was often likened to a procession of ants. Pilgrims beliedved that their sins would be forgiven and their spirits would be purified by walking the steep and treacherous mountain road which is full of difficulties.

The Ancient Kumano Road  熊野古道
. . . CLICK here for Photos !
Since the medieval ages, many people in Kyoto have made a 690-km round-trip pilgrimage to Kumano Sanzan Shrines by taking the steep mountainous route. Along the ancient road, there were many places of worship. At each place, travelers stopped over and had a view of the distant Kumano mountians. They also offered sutra recitations and sacred music and dancing at some major shrines. Still today, the ruins of these shrines can be found along the route, reminding today's people of the sentiments of pilgrims in the past.

Reference KUMANO


The Waterfall of Nachi 那智の滝

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The mountains of Nachi-San in Kumano, with its slopes covered by a primeval forest of luxuriant evergreen trees, are about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) inland from the Sea of Kumano. Cascading down between the peaks, the Nachi River runs over 48 waterfalls. Nachi Fall, also known as Ichi-no-Taki (The First Fall), is the largest of these. The great Ichi-no-Taki, where in a 13-meter-wide flow, one ton of water drops straight down for 133 meters (436 feet) every second, rivals the Kegon Fall at Nikko and the Fukuroda Fall in Ibaraki Prefecture as the most beautiful waterfall in Japan.

This impressive waterfall is seen as an incarnation of Fudo Myo-O himself.
Others see Kannon Bosatsu in the fall.

. Waterfalles named "Fudo no Taki" 不動の滝 .   


source : muneko


Kumano Mandala 熊野曼荼羅
. . . CLICK here for Photos !
The popularity of the Kumano Sanzan (Three Grand Shrines) as a pilgrimage destination in ancient times is due largely to the efforts of the Kumano missionaries (Bikuni) who traveled all over Japan explaining, to whoever they met, the stories told in the various


The surprising story of Jofuku 徐福,
maybe the first foreign visitor to the area?
Jofuku, pronounced Xifu in Chinese, came to Japan during the Jomon Era in the 3rd century B.C. served Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor to unify China, more than two thousand years ago. It is said that he landed near Shingu and brought with him much Chinese culture and technology. He is said to have been sent by the emperor to search for the elixir of perpetual youth and eternal life, a quest that brought him to Kumano.
It is said that Jofuku's party spotted the luxuriantly wooded Mt. Horai near the mouth of the Kumano River as they sailed on the Pacific Ocean, and decided to make landfall here.



The Story of the Heike  平家一族の話
The Heike Monogatari (the story of the Taira clan) tells us that the prosperity of the Tairano Family started not accidentally but rather because of the power of the Kumano Gongen (Kumano Deity).
Heike, Genji and the Fireflies

The Story of Saint Ippen  一遍上人絵伝
Ippen Shonin, the founder of the Jishu sect is believed to have encountered the Kumano Gongen at Kumano Hongu Shrine and thereby became enlightened.
Ippen and the temple Yugyooj 遊行寺

Fudaraku Tokai 補陀落渡海
Taking a boat to the Fudaraku paradise of Kannon

from the shores of Kumano
. yomi 黄泉 "the yellow springs" .


Ooji  王子 Oji

are the shrines marking the way at fairly regular intervals along the Kumano Kodo ancient pilgrimage route stretching from Osaka to Kumano Nachi Taisha on the Kii Peninsula. The Chinese characters for oji, (ō 王) meaning "king" and (ji 子) meaning "child" ordinarily mean "prince." But, in this case, oji is a place where some Japanese god or gods are enshrined. When pilgrims come to ojis, they often offer a prayer to the gods. Pilgrims expect that the gods will watch over them for a safe journey and answer their prayers.
source : 99oji.blogspot.jp

The departure for the Kumano pilgrimage in Kyoto :
. Joonanguu 城南宮 Jonan-Gu, Jonangu Shrine .


After so much historical details, let us go back to Daruma hunting.
There are two different stones with Daruma as a model sold as souvenirs in this area.

Daruma of black Nachi-Stone
CLICK for more photos The black stones of the area of the Nachi Mountains are pulverized and mixed with tree resin, then poured in a silicon mold with the form of a half-relief Daruma. When dry the figurine is polished to a fine black luster to give us these wonderful black Daruma figures and a lot of other items, which are sold at the local souvenir stores.

Reference : Black Stone of Nachi


Daruma with a headband and the three peaks of Mount Fuji on his belly
The inscription reads

Ishi Nachi Hachimaki


Another souvenir of the area is a simple flat stone with the face of Daruma painted on it. Here is a collection of five on a frame to hang on the wall.


atarashiki kirikabu niou Kumano Michi

a freshly cut
tree stump smells ...
Road to Kumano

© yukinko
Kumano Haiku Trip

Tr. Gabi Greve

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. 台風12号 Typhoon Talas

August 28 - September 05, 2011
A very slow typhoon with much rain and damage in Mie, Wakayama and Nara.

Storm Talas damages ancient pilgrimage route

Tropical storm Talas left a trail of destruction across western Japan, including damage to a World Heritage site in Mie Prefecture.
Ancient, stone-paved coastal pilgrimage paths called Kumano Kodo were found covered by mud in Mihama Town. The town was drenched with heavy rain brought by the typhoon.
The routes crisscross the Kii mountain range, straddling Mie, Wakayama and Nara prefectures. They were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004 for their cultural value and unique scenery.
Officials of a corporation affiliated with Mie Prefectural Government say a mudslide has also been confirmed on a 200-meter section of a road leading to Kumano Kodo.

The prefecture's education board plans to assess the extent of the damage.
source : NHK World News .
Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - NHK
Officials study storm damage at Kumano Shrine
Japanese government officials have examined damage caused by a tropical storm to a Shinto shrine in central Japan earlier this month.
The Kumano Nachi Taisha shrine, located in the town of Nachi-Katsuura, Wakayama Prefecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Massive amounts of mud swept into the shrine complex when the storm triggered a landslide nearby.
6 officials from the Cultural Affairs Agency toured the site on Wednesday, led by the chief priest.
Workers have not been able to remove the mud for fear of damaging the shrine's buildings, but the officials explained to them how it could be done.
Agency official Kazuhiko Yano said he does not think the shrine will be removed from the World Heritage list, because its buildings are intact.
But he said it would take some time to ensure that rocks and mud from the mountain behind the complex don't fall and cause further damage.


Fudo Myo-O  不動明王
along the Road to Kumano
- shared by Amy Chavez - facebook

Related words

***** . Amulets from the Kumano shrines .

***** . Folk Toys from Wakayama .

. Legends about Kumano .


- #kumano #wakayama -


Anonymous said...

Japan Times


Green and to the heart of the matter
Kumano shows the real beauty of Japan lies not in pop culture and bright city lights

First of two parts

"Once you cross Tonda River, you're entering the Land of the Dead," says Brad, a tousle-haired, bespectacled, Japan-loving walking encyclopedia from Canada and also our chief guide on this venture into Kumano — the spiritual heartland of Japan, located on the Kii Peninsula, Wakayama Prefecture.

Land of the Dead? Mordor-like or Mordor-lite? I'm decidedly not scared at this point, but . . . that's down to naivety. I will almost die, and fall in love in the process.

Me, Brad, a few of his colleagues, and a squad of all-male, all-gaijin (Western) journalists are standing beside the Takijiri-oji Shrine, which most hikers use as a starting point to trek through Kumano, and Brad is spinning a mythical tale, which goes something like this: The female creator deity Izanami died giving birth to the fire deity — and that does sound like a rather painful experience — so she went to Kumano, the Land of the Dead. Her hubbie, Izanagi, the male creator deity, sought her out. But after seeing her corpse, he was naturally upset and fled the Land of the Dead and jumped into the Tonda River, which runs in the valley below. There he did the misogi (purification ritual) and when he washed his body deities were born. And life, the universe and everything moved on . . .

This is just one of many myths; Kumano has thousands of years of complex religious beliefs involving Shintoism, Buddhism and other obscure belief systems (this place also attracts yamabushi [mountain ascetics], who dangle off cliffs and sit naked under freezing waterfalls).

"The important thing to remember is that Kumano is open to everyone," says Brad. "This place goes to the core of spirituality rather than holding fast to any specific doctrine."

As our bus winds up and down through the cedar- and cypress-clad mountains, Brad, a crucial cog in the Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau soul crew, says, "This reminds me of Nepal. You climb up and down mountains and then enter a river-valley community where you find lodgings for the night and then continue hiking the next day. That's the general idea when you visit this area."

One such lodging is the new Kumano Kodo Takahara Lodge in the mountain-top village of Takahara, and it doesn't get much better than this. The lodge opened last month and the rooms command mind-bending views of the Hatenashi mountain range with prices starting at around ¥8,900 a night; and it also boasts indoor and outdoor hot baths.

"There's only one child left in this village due to depopulation," says Brad. "We're hoping the lodge may create a few new jobs and attract a new family to settle here."

Looking out at the mountains, I get my first "hit" of what this is all about. It feels good. Another guide, Akagi-san, (clad in a traditional yamabushi costume, and fondly nicknamed "Bakagi-san," but more of that next week) blows his horagai (conch trumpet), which is used by the yamabushi to attract the attention of the deities and also to communicate.

Pilgrims — from emperors to peasants — have endured a 40-day return hike to Kumano from the ancient capital of Kyoto for thousands of years. Their goal: to visit the Kumano Sanzan, or the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano — Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Nachi Taisha and Kumano Hayatama Taisha. They would follow a network of routes called the Kumano Kodo, with the most common being the trail following the coast to the town of Tanabe and then turning east on the Nakahechi Route that cuts through the mountains. Brad says that tomorrow we will hike along part of that route — moving through the Land of the Dead.

We stop for a vegetarian lunch at the Boccu macrobiotic restaurant, which is located in a minka (traditional old rural house) in the village of Nakahechi. The young owner, Yukimi Nakamine, was attracted by the bright city lights and left here to work in Wakayama and Osaka like many other young people. But pining after the natural way of living, she returned to grow her own organic food and open the restaurant. The bean and veggie dishes are so good that if I was on death row this would be my last order.

Next we stop to drink water from the Nonka No Shimizu spring and gaze in awe at the huge Ipposugi cedar tree, with all of its branches pointing south. "That's because there's a lot of spiritual power in that direction," says Brad.

Ipposugi is one of many trees that were saved by the avant-garde environmentalist Minakata Kumagusu. The microbiologist with a fondness for folklore would scamper naked in the woods and then return to a village and tell people that a tengu (long-nosed goblin) had led him to a new species of fungi. He was a fierce opponent of the Meiji Restoration authorities who, in their effort to split Buddhism and Shintoism, were intent on destroying many of the holy areas that fuse the beliefs in Kumano. Kumagusu even got jailed for his dedication to the rebel cause, but in his cell the gods shined upon him, and he found yet another new species of slime mold growing on the wall.

Brad says: "When the government inspectors arrived to check the area to see what had to be destroyed, Kumagusu would be a kind of 'guerrilla' guide: One of his famous tricks was to take them to a local inn and get them hopelessly drunk so they'd just pass out and then return to the city with a hangover the next day and without destroying anything."

In another stunning valley dotted with ume (apricot) trees lies the village of Minachi, and we drop by the rambling, ramshackle home and workshop of 87-year-old Yasuo Shiba, the last of Japan's great traditional cypress craftsmen. For generations, his family has worked here, making conical hats worn by pilgrims, and which are often commissioned by major Kyoto temples. He is the last in line, and I feel quite emotional watching him beavering away on another hat beneath various awards and certificates that line the walls recognizing his work and telling us he is a Living Intangible Cultural Asset in Wakayama Prefecture.

When I take in the magnitude of silence and peace in this lush valley, I realize this is the "land of living," and that Tokyo, where I live, is the "land of the dead." Rather an array of trees than an army of sad-faced salarymen. I get my second "hit," and it's a big one. I smile at Brad, and he places one of Shiba's hats on my head.

And Shiba chats on and on, clearly excited about having a bunch of foreigners crowding around him in this remote village. "Young people don't do this craft anymore. They leave for the cities,' he says. "And the old craftsmen are disappearing. I am the last one, but I am getting old, so it's much harder to go into the mountains to collect the cypress bark I need, but a lot of people in the village support me so I can continue my work."

He doesn't say this with sorrow particularly. Just matter-of-factness. But I think he's got a few good years left in him; he's a sprightly old fellow and I'd put money on him to beat this alcoholic wastrel of a writer over 100 yards. As the other journalists — and only one of them is taking any notes (maybe they all have amazing memories) — head back to the bus, I ask Shiba if I can use his bathroom. He leads me past a tatami room where two yukata-clad women (perhaps his wife and daughter) have been quietly spying on this strange invasion of gaijin.

In a store room on which sake is stacked on shelves a urinal pokes out of the wall like some Duchamp artwork.

"I'm sorry," he says. "That's all it is."

"That's all I need," I say.

Shiba usually constructs two hats a day, and they cost about ¥5,000 apiece. At first the hats are a pale yellow. But as the wood ages, they turn a beautiful brown color.

"When it's sunny and hot, air can pass through the hat to keep you cool," explains Brad. "And when it rains, the fibers expand and together with the cedar oil this stops your head from getting wet."

Back on the bus, we're heading for the oldest spa area in Japan, and Brad announces: "And now for something completely different. The beautiful Mayumi (another guide) is going to take her clothes off for you. I bet you are all very excited."

I wonder if Brad has been taking secret hits from a flask of shochu. In this case, he's certainly trying too hard to keep these journalists interested. Can't blame him though, a few of them look like they've just stepped out of a George A. Romero movie and never left the Land of the Dead. Myself, I'm enthralled and enwondered and sex is the last thing on my mind.

Anonymous said...

Anchin and Kiyohime / Tale of Dojoji
along the Kumano Road

Time Period: 10th Century, booklet dated 1660

The very short version:
A monk flees from the unwanted advances of the girl Kiyohime and hides under a huge bell in the Dojoji temple. She follows, turns into a dragon, and curls around the bell, melting it and killing bother herself and Anchin.

Part One:
Anchin was a monk traveling on pilgramage to Kumano when he stopped for the night at the home of Soji Kiyotsugu and his daughter, Kiyohime. She fell in hove and before he could leave she made him promise to return to her and share her bed. Knowing that this was impossible, Anchin made the promise and continued his journey. On his return, Anchin avoided the woman's house and even to to Hidaka Village before she found out his treachery and came after him. He took refuge in the temple of Dojoji where the monks hid him under a bell. The woman was blocked by rising waters, turned into a serpent to cross, noticed the suspiciously lowered bell, wrapped herself around it and nearly melted the bell in her rage.
Anchin was buried by the monks.

Version 2:
Kiyo was a beautiful waitress who worked in a teahouse on the Hidaka riverbank. A visiting priest fell in love with her and she with him, but after a time he overcame his passions (some versions say he lost his passion for her) and refused further meetings. Kiyo became furious and sought revenge. She went to the temple of Kompera to learn the art of magic. After studying for some time she turned herself into a dragon and flew to the monastery where the priest lived. He saw her coming and hid himself under the temple bell. With a great belch of fire, the dragon melted the bell, thereby killing the priest.

Part Two:
After this tragedy, the monks procured another bell and, although forbidden to enter by the monks, one woman asked to dance and was led in. But she touched the bell and became so upset that she hid under it and would have destroyed it had not the priests prayed so well to the dragons to redeem the woman-serpent. Eventually, the serpent rose from under the bell and was forced back into the Hidaka River.

Part Three:
A while later, Anchin and the woman-serpent came to the monks in dreams and he asked that a chapter from the Lotus Sutra be copied and dedicated to him. The monks did and in a 2nd dream Anchin told them that it freed him to go tot he Tushita heaven and the woman was freed to the Toriten heaven.





Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Fujishiro Jinja 藤白神社 Fujishiro shrine
Arima no Mikoto, Arima no Miko  有間の尊
the Suzuki Families 鈴木さん

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Kumano Taisha 熊野大社 Kumano Shrine
Matsue, shimane

Izumo-no-kuni Ichi-no-miya Kumano Taisha

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

名取市 Natori town 高館字熊野堂 Takadate Kumano-Do

Kumano Jinja 熊野神社

During the late Heian period there lived a miko 巫女 Shrine maiden at the border between Natori and 前田 Maeda. She made the long pilgrimage to Kumano (in Wakayama) every year. When she got older (roojo) she could not visit Kumano any more.
Then she built three Kumano Shrines in Natori.
The Shrine maiden was soon known as Natori Rojo 名取老女 The Old Woman from Natori.
Once a Shugendo priest from Kumano came to Natori and had a dream about a letter written on a leaf of a tree ナギの葉 / 椰の葉 (nagi, Podocarpus nag). He found the leaf and handed it to the old woman, with 31 Characters written on it (the letters seemed to have been made by the bites of caterpillars. .
She cried when she read the note and showed the priest around the shrine.

This happened in 保安年間(1120 - 1124年)

In 1811, the villagers built a small shrine and memorial stone in her honor.
Now people come to offer straw sandals in memory of her travels.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Kumano Junisha Gongen Avatars


Gabi Greve said...

yatagarasu ema, yata-garasu 八咫烏絵馬
votive tablet with a three-legged crow
karasu 烏 crow - Kumano Sanzan 熊野三山
the shinshi 神使 divine messenger