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August 6, 2013 - Osorezan - Shimokita Peninsula
The Shimokita Peninsula is quite remote for Japan. It's roughly 2 hours to Shimokita station from Aomori if the trains connect. Trains leave each hour or so. Osorezan is roughly 35 minutes from Shimokita station which leaves 4 or 5 times a day. Buses only leave between May and October due to the large amount of snow that falls in winter.
Before you get to Bodaji Temple, the bus stops at a small spring which all of the local tourists fill their drinking bottles with. Ororezan is known as being one of the three most holiest places in Japan, along with Okunoin at Koyasan and Enryakuji temple at Mt Heizan.
Bodaiji temple costs 500 yen to enter and is meant to represent Japanese Buddhist Hell. At the time, heat was permeating from the hot rocks and the midday sun. The strong smell of sulphur wafted in the air - almost like an onsen (there is meant to be a free onsen somewhere here).
There are two different festivals in late July and October. They are meant to be times when we can speak to our relatives in the afterlife. There is also a strong belief that piles of rocks and statues of Jizo will help protect the souls of unborn babies and dead children into the afterlife. Small windmills and other things liked by children are also included in many places around the temple.
This area is meant to represent Buddhist Paradise. It looks beautiful - but the sand is coarse and the water is highly poisonous. It's an interesting and eerily beautiful place which can get very hot in summer but frigidly cold in winter.
Before you enter Osorezan there are two statues of demons and a bridge which all people must cross when they enter the afterlife. The less sins you have - the easier it is to pass the bridge.
As buses are quite infrequent - I highly suggest you take your time and even get lunch here at the only place to eat. I caught the 9AM bus and the next bus (apart from 10AM) was 1PM which gave me a 3 hour window for 1 temple and a small walking area. There is plenty to see - but don't travel at a million miles an hour like I normally do otherwise you would have seen everything in 90 minutes. Note that strangely everything here is reasonably priced. The menu at the restaurant is all in Japanese - but just stating Curry Rice or Udon will get you some food which was actually quite nice.