Mount Daisen is the highest and symbolic mountain in Tottori Prefecture. The height is 1,729 meters. It is also a sacred mountain. There are many temple and shrine constructions around the mountain.
The history of the formation of the mountain
Mount Daisen is an independent mountain that does not has connections with the other mountains. It started the volcanic activity about 1 million years ago. It continued many activities and the last eruption was about 20,800 years ago. These volcanic activities made Daisen stratovolcano mainly made of dacite.
The whole area is designated as The Daisen Oki National Park. The mountain is selected as one of the best 100 mountains in Japan. Because of its beauty and the symbolic nature, it is also nicknamed Hoki-Fuji or Izumo-Fuji. We often put “Fuji” after the name of the area to show it is the most important mountain in the area.
Hiking at the foot of the mountain
It will be a good experience to walk at the foot of the mountain. It is not just hiking, but you also feel holiness visiting several temples and shrine constructions.
Daisenji Temple was founded in 718. It was one of the biggest temples in Japan. At peak time, about 100 sub-temples and 3,000 monk soldiers, but after the separation order of shrines and temples, they lost the power and now there are only 4 halls and 10 sub-temples in a quiet atmosphere. The main hall is a reconstruction in 1954.
It is the oldest construction of Daisenji Temple. It was constructed in the mid 16th century. The main statue was sculpted by the famous sculptor monk Ryoen in the 12th century. You need a reservation to see this old Buddhist statue and you can also try Zazen meditation in this hall. Both the hall and the statues are designated as National Important Cultural Properties.
The approach to the shrine is really something. It is the longest stone-paved approach to the shrine in Japan. It stretches about 700 meters. Some part is really steep. This approach surrounded by old cedar trees was made in the late 18th century. There used to be many priests and monks residences on both sides of the approach. There remain several Jizo statues on the way.
Then at the end of the approach, you will find a huge complex of Ogamiyama Shrine. It is unknown when it was founded, but from a long time ago, it has served as a center of mountain worship. The main hall is designated as a National Important Cultural Property.
Shojin Ryori (vegetarian temple meal)
There are several restaurants at the foot of the mountain. Among them, there is a temple accommodation called Sanrakuso. There, you can have a vegetarian temple lunch without staying overnight. Also, there are some souvenir shops, so before you go back to the city, you can spare time for eating and shopping.
Climbing to the Summit
If you prefer to climb to the summit of the mountain, you can walk up to the second peak called Mount Misen. Due to the landslide by the earthquake in 2000, it is prohibited to climb to the summit, but the top of Misen is only 20 meters lower and also regarded as the summit of Daisen. It takes about 6 hours for a round trip and you can enjoy the magnificent view from the summit of Misen.
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Access: 50 minutes ride on the bus from Yonago Station (JR Line) to Daisenji (大山寺) stop