The Kunisaki Peninsula is home to Rokugo Manzan, which loosely translates to “six districts, full of mountains”. The six districts referred to Kunawa, Tashibu, Imi, Kunisaki, Aki, and Musashi areas. Since ancient times Kunisaki has been a training place for those seeking spiritual powers through rigorous mountain rituals, known as Shugendo. Kunisaki has a rich culture combining Buddhism, Shinto, and mountain worship, leaving the peninsula full of relics and artifacts that have been left standing for over a thousand years. There are so many wonderful temples that date back to the 700’s that even without knowing about the history of Buddhism or Shinto, one can easily enjoy the magnitude of structures, hidden paths, and caves that date back to an era that still holds some of the oldest artifacts in the Buddhist religion in Japan.
Mt. Futago is located in the center of the Kunisaki Peninsula and it is the largest mountain in Kunisaki at a height of approximately 2,300 ft (720m). The temple of Mt. Futago was founded by Ninmon Bodhisattva around 718 and became the central temple of the Rokugo Manzan culture, Tendai denomination. There are two Deva King statues built in 1814 guarding the staircase to the entrance. Surrounding the many buildings are paths and valleys that create an awe inspiring nature experience with the overhead brush of the trees creating a natural canopy. Anytime of the year is a great time to visit, especially in the autumn when the leaves are changing colors.
After you ascend the staircase just past the admission booth, immediately on the right is the main building called Gomado Hall. Right in front of the temple you will see a white etched carving of Fudo Myou with his distinctive characteristics of surrounding flames used to burn away impediments and defilement helping one seek enlightenment, the sword in his right hand, representing wisdom cutting through ignorance, and one tooth pointing upwards and the other pointing downwards. Fudo is also referred to as The Immovable as he is often portrayed sitting or standing on a rock to symbolize his immovability in his faith. He is the protector of all living things burning away all impediments and defilement. 明王-Myou is the Japanese term used for the grouping of warlike or wrathful deities as is directly translated as bright king or wisdom king.
The entrance to Gomado Hall is on the left. Once inside, there are many relics to grab your attention. One in particular is the carving of Ninmon Bosatsu that is positioned in the very left upper area of the hall when facing the alter. He is positioned in front of a torii gate that is a small replica of the larger one found at the Usa Shrine. Ninmon is the founder of Rokugo Manzan in the Kunisaki Peninsula founding 65 temples all over the Kunisaki Peninsula and according to legend, he created 69,000 stone Buddha statues over his lifetime. Directly in the center of the hall on the back wall you will see the wooden statue of Fudo Myou with the red flames. On the left wall you can see depictions of Amida, Kannon, and the twin gods in the form of children from which the temple ordained its name Twin temple or 両子寺(“futa” meaning both)子(“ko/go” meaning child). Looking at the ceiling you will notice that it is covered in black soot due to the burning of cedar sticks that are used in rituals to pray for protection that often takes places within the Gomado Hall.
The Great Hall
The Great Hall is located behind Gomado Hall slightly up the path on the right. The original building was destroyed by fire due to the anti-Buddhism movement of the Meiji Restoration and through charitable donations was reconstructed in 1991. The main idol of worship in this hall is Amida Buddha. Amida Buddha is the central deity of the Pure Land and the ruler of the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss. For sincere and faithful followers that chant “Namu Amida Butsu” will seek the path to enlightenment often referred to as the quick path of enlightenment. Amida is often depicted on a cloud with two attendants ascending from the sky to guide the souls of the dead to the Pure Land.
The Inner Hall
Further up the mountain on the right, up the steep stone stairs behind the giant torii gate, will lead you to the Inner Hall or Okuno-In. A 7ft wooden statue of the Goddess of Mercy, Kannon is housed here with her 11 faces and 1000 arms. She is one of the most widely worshiped dieties in Asia. She is a Bodhisattva, which means that she has achieved enlightenment, but prolonged being a Buddha to stay here and help those of the earthly realm in difficulty find salvation. She is one of Amida’s attendants and can be seen in artwork along with Amida in a triangular descent from the sky. Amida is in the center, on the left is Seishi Bodhisattva representing wisdom and Kannon is on the right representing compassion.