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October 14, 2013
Day 11 - Osorezan

Mount Osorezan (R) 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 literally 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.

Today's Report

As I write this, Ifm gazing out of my window at the Mutsu Grand Hotel and taking in the sunset over the town and the mountains beyond. Just to make sure you keep on reading me, Ifll post the picture tomorrow!
I had a great day today, and literally went from hell to heaven. After a good breakfast at the hotel, we headed off to Ozoresan, one of the holiest place in Japan, the resting place off the dead, where we went for a very interesting walk.

To get these, you first have to cross a bridge over the river, which symbolises the river you cross from our world into the next. Just before the bridge are you ogres, who decide where you go - heaven or hell.

The bride dividing our world from the after-world

One of the two ogres guarding the entrance

Ozoresan is built on volcanic ground, and so the place is scattered with bubbling pools of water and mud, 108 to be precise, that symbolise the 108 worldly desires and the hells linked to them. A very potent sulfur smell is everywhere you go, steam gushes out from cracks along the way. There are not plants - only piles or rock, and vapours oozing. This is hell.

A walk through hell - litteraly

Sulfur smelling vapours

Just next to that are a little sub-temple, very nice shrubberies, a lake with crystal clear water and white sandy shores, statues of Jiso and other boddhisattvas, a memorial to the victims of the great earthquake of 2010. This is paradise.

Temple in heaven

Jiso and boddhisattvas by the lake

Lake Usori

To the victimes of the Tsunami

Everywhere you look, people have put little wind wheels. But Ozoresan is also an active temple, with monks who live there, offering lodging to visitors, and with onsen where anyone can bathe.

If only I had thought of bringing a towel!

The temple

After this very surreal place, we headed back to Mutsu for lunch and in the afternoon, drove to the coast to see some wild horses. The landscape looks very much like what Ifve been used to in Ireland, so it was very nice to be there. And the horses were amazing - you can really get very close to them, if you donft mind walking through a bog (also very Irish!).

Back home! A bit of Ireland in Northern Japan

Wild horeses at the tip of the Shimokita peninsula

My last activity of the day was to learn how to make Bekomochi a rice flour sweet that is typical of this region of Japan. And look how pretty it is! They then have to be boiled, so Ifll hang on to them until Ifm back home and cook them then, taking them from freezer to freezer along the way.

Bekomochi making (mine are the blue!)


Today's Program
Today's Walk: A visit to Bodaiji Temple

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Today's walk does not cover a large distance. It is essentially a visit to Bodaiji Temple on Osorezan, whose unique grounds include volcanically active terrain.

Date October 14, 2013
Start Time 10:00
Start Sanzu River Bridge
Goal Bodaiji Temple
Distance 1 kilometer (about 1 hour)
Terrain The grounds of Osorezan have both paved paths and unpaved tracks. Some parts of the tour involve walking on gravel, sand and ground wet by sulfuric streams. Proper shoes are required.
Weather Average daytime high: 14 degrees Celsius (57 degrees Fahrenheit)
Average nighttime low: 3 degrees Celsius (37 degrees Fahrenheit)
Weather Forecast for Aomori
Access Osorezan is located on the Shimokita Peninsula and can be reached via buses from Shimokita Station (45 minutes, 750 yen one way). The buses depart the station at 9:00, 11:00, 12:50 and 14:00. The 9:00 departure arrives at Osorezan in time for today's walk. In the opposite direction, the buses depart at 10:00, 13:00, 15:00 and 15:50.
More details on how to get to Shimokita Peninsula
Lodgings It is possible to stay at a temple lodging at Osorezan. A convenient place to base your stay at the Shimokita Peninsula is in Mutsu City, where there are several hotels available. Most lodgings in the city are located near the Mutsu bus terminal, where buses from Shimokita Station to Osorezan make a stop at along the way. More lodging choices can be found in nearby Aomori and Hachinohe.
Search hotels in Mutsu through Agoda, or Japanican
Search hotels in Aomori through Agoda, or Japanican
Search hotels in Hachinohe through Agoda, or Japanican

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Daily Quiz
The deadline for answering the quiz question for day 11 has passed.

What is unique about the JR Ominato Line which serves the Shimokita Peninsula?

0%   It is the shortest line in the JR network
0%   Despite being a JR line, the Japan Rail Pass is not valid on it
93%   It is not connected to the rest of the JR network
5%   It is the only JR line in Aomori Prefecture that is not electrified
2%   None of the above

The correct answer is: It is not connected to the rest of the JR network

The Ominato Line is the only JR line that is not connected to any other JR line. The isolation became reality when operation along the former JR Tohoku Main Line between Aomori and Hachinohe was taken over by the Aoimori Railway in December 2010.

Current Standings: (after 30 days)

28 Points: Csabba, AlexanderStankov
27 Points: gladhiola, almoehi, ZoomX2, mikaelus
26 Points: Rabbityama, Proxy707

More about the quiz

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