We might say that mountains in their very nature have some measure of holiness, in the sense in which Rudolf Otto defined the term “holy”, or “numinous”, with the elements of “tremendous mystery” (mysterium tremendum et fascinans). In principle accessible to humans, they are still a realm apart, purer than our daily world yet inhabited by awesome, elemental powers which may give life or kill. Knowledge comes from, or can be found in the mountains. In mountains dwell the uncomfortably potent spirits of the dead.
In Japan you may still come upon intriguing figures wearing tiny black caps and bright pom-poms, with blow conch-shell trumpets at their waists, striding along a street. It is a real yamabushi, a priest “who lies down on the mountains”. He uses to call the mountains shide no yama, as the mountains is supposed to exist on the route to the Other World. Shugendo was formerly a kind of Buddhist asceticism. It consists of magical practices and a spiritual and physical training, the object of which is to attain magical power against evil spirits.
Starring Tetsuji Matsubayashi, Shugendō monk, Shinto Priests of the Ise Jingū Grand Shrine and Imperial Envoys
A project by Cartography Magazine, Issue 4
Director Luca De Santis. Music Têmpete (Tabu) by Christine Ott. Voice Mark Billsborough
Special Thanks to Sasayuri-ann, Ise Shima Toba Inbound Association, Japan National Tourism Organization JNTO.