Mysterious Mount Misen, Itsukushima’s Magical Mountain

Covered with luxuriant primeval forests, Mt Misen, the highest mountain on Miyajima Island, rises 535 metres above sea level and is steeped in legend. The mountain has been considered sacred and an object of worship since ancient times.

A ropeway runs from Momijidani Station (which can be reached by shuttle bus from Itsukushima Shrine) to Shishiwa Station, where visitors can enjoy the views over the  Setouchi islands and the primeval forest.

A hiking path leads from Shishiiwa Station, through the Primeval Forest, past a number of points of interest, including two of Misen’s seven wonders, to the summit of the holy mountain and Mt. Misen Observatory. The hike takes approximately one hour and suitable clothes and hiking shoes should be worn. The panoramic views from the Mt. Misen observatory at the summit of the mountain represent the genuine value of Miyajima, one of the three most scenic spots in Japan.

The area around Misen is replete with wonders. The seven wonders which have lived on through ancient tales are: Kiezu-no-hi (The Eternal Flame), Mandara-iwa rock, The Sound of the Wooden Clappers, Kanman-iwa rock,Shakujo-no-uma (Plum of Crosier), Shigure-zakura (Showered Cherry Blossom) and Ryuto-no-sugi (Sea-Fire Japan Cedar).

Near the summit are temples relating to Kobo Daishi, a great Buddhist priest. The mountain is also home to a number of unusually shaped rocks, such as Funa-iwa (Ship Rock) and Kujira-iwa (Whale Rock) and an observatory.

Since the great Buddhist monk Kobo Daishi (Kukai), arrived on the mountain in 806, it has attracted devoted worshippers including Taira-no-Kiyomori and Itoh Hirobumi, there are still traces of their travels and legends here. Kukai visited Miyajima on his way back to the city of Kyoto after finishing the mission of envoys. It is said that he performed “Gumonki” meditation practice for 100 days. The holy flame that he used is still burning today, after 1,200 years or more. It is said that the holy water boiled with this fire cures all sorts of diseases. This flame was used as the pilot light for the Flame of Peace of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

In 1996, the area was designated a World Cultural Heritage site as ‘Misen Virgin Forest together with Itsukushima Shrine’.

Take care to preserve the natural environment and watch out for mamushi (Japanese pit viper) and bees when hiking on the mountain.

SOURCES: 

  • Miyajima Ropeway leaflet
  • Miyajima Guide Map
  • http://visit-miyajima-japan.com/en/culture-and-heritage/patrimoine-naturel/mount-misen.html
  • http://miyajima-ropeway.info/en/access/index.html

Mysterious Mount Misen, Itsukushima’s Magical Mountain

by Uncover Travel time to read: 2 min
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