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Home - Travel - Sightseeing Guide - Tohoku - Shimokita Peninsula
Osorezan (Mount Osore) 
# 1   of 3 most visited sights
in Shimokita Hanto

jump to:   access  -  admission  -  ratings

Bodaiji Temple's main hall

Mount Osorezan (恐山) is ranked along with Koyasan and Hieizan as one of Japan's three most sacred places. It was discovered over 1000 years ago by a Buddhist priest in search of a sacred mountain that resembles the world of Buddha. Today, it is the site of Bodaiji Temple.

Osorezan is translated as "Fear Mountain", a name that comes in part from the mountain's exceptional landscape. The area is rich in volcanic activity, and a strong smell of sulfur permeates the air. The ground is gray and barren and marked by openings that steam, bubble and blow hot water. Lake Usori, located next to the temple, is colored various shades of blue due to its high sulfur content.

Sanzu no Kawa

Osorezan is also known as entrance to afterlife, because it features geographical elements similar to descriptions of Buddhist hell and paradise, including eight surrounding peaks and a river, Sanzu no Kawa, which has to be crossed by all dead souls on their way to afterlife and is often compared to the River Styx of ancient Greek mythology.

Among the souls trying to cross the river are the souls of dead children and unborn babies who build piles of pebbles along the riverbed (Sai no Kawara) in an attempt to get to the other side. They are supported by Jizo, a popular bodhisattva of Japanese Buddhism, who protects the souls from evil demons, which constantly try to destroy the piles of pebbles.

Statues of Jizo are commonplace around Osorezan, as are piles of stones and pebbles. The pebbles are offerings to Jizo by parents of dead children in the hope that he will use the stones to help their children gain access to paradise. Brightly colored toy windmills are another common offering frequently seen around Osorezan's grounds.

Every year, Bodaiji's festival (July 22 to 24) attracts the bereaved and those hoping to communicate with lost loved ones through mediums, known as Itako. Itako are blind women who have undergone extensive spiritual training. In order to commune with the dead, they perform austere purification rituals for three months prior to the event and enter into a deep, prolonged trance during the festival.

Although access can be a challenge due to the lack of public transportation, Osorezan is a well known destination and the temple is equipped with overnight lodgings for guests. Both overnight and day visitors to the temple can use the simple hot spring baths located on the temple grounds.

Walking paths crisscross Bodaiji's unique temple grounds, affording visitors plenty of opportunity to stroll around the site and take in the scenery. A walk along the shores of Lake Usori is recommended, although visitors should avoid the poisonous water.

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.

How to get there

Three to five buses per day operate between Shimokita Station, Mutsu Bus Terminal and Osorezan. The one way trip from the station to Osorezan takes 45 minutes and costs 800 yen. No buses operate from November through April, when Bodaiji Temple is closed.

How to get to and around Shimokita Peninsula

Hours and Fees
Hours:6:00 to 18:00
Closed:November through April
Admission:500 yen

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User Ratings
Ratings for Osorezan:
japan-guide.com Rating:
  best of the best  
User Rating (by 25 users):
94/100
  highly recommended

Best rated sights nationwide (out of 764):
16.  Itsukushima Shrine (Miyajima)   94/100
17.  Uji Tea (Uji)   94/100
18.  Iriomote Island (Yaeyama Islands)   94/100
19.  Takayama Festival (Takayama)   94/100
20.  Shiratani Unsuikyo (Yakushima)   94/100
21.  Osorezan (Shimokita Hanto)   94/100
22.  Hiking in Kirishima (Kirishima)   93/100
23.  Railway Museum (Nagoya)   93/100
24.  Sojiji Temple (Noto Peninsula)   93/100
25.  Taketomi Island (Yaeyama Islands)   93/100
Most visited sights nationwide (out of 894):
602.  Kozan Park (Yamaguchi)   51
603.  Kagoshima Aquarium (Kagoshima)   51
604.  Uji River (Uji)   51
605.  Rishiri Island (Rishiri and Rebun)   50
606.  Rebun Island (Rishiri and Rebun)   50
607.  Osorezan (Shimokita Hanto)   50
608.  Yoshimizu Shrine (Yoshino)   50
609.  Zao Onsen (Zao)   50
610.  Takkoku no Iwaya (Hiraizumi)   50
611.  Kibi Plain (Okayama)   50

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