Osorezan, lit. "Fear Mountain", is one of Japan's most spiritual spots. Located on the remote Shimokita Peninsula in Aomori Prefecture, this volcanic mountain is as close as you can get to the afterlife, and many people visit the temple to seek contact with lost ones. At the center of the mountain lies Usoriko, a blue-colored, highly acidic lake, and Bodaiji Temple, the only human-made structures in the area.

Because of the severe winters, Bodaiji Temple closes every year from November through April. So, one week before its winter closure, I stayed overnight at Bodaiji's temple lodging and checked out the local autumn colors. Surrounding the temple on all sides, the colors were at their best today, and I expect them to remain spectacular until the temple's closure on October 31.

Seeing the blue lake with its white shores, surrounded by eight peaks covered in autumn colors, I gained a certain understanding for why Ennin, the temple's founder, recognized this remote corner of the world as the Buddhist paradise about 1200 years ago.