immortal wishes:
labor and transcendence
on a Japanese sacred mountain

Ellen Schattschneider

Duke University Press (2003)

Teaching Resources


Akakura mountain is the name given to the north-east face of Mt. Iwaki, a quiescent volcanic cone that dominates the southern Tsgaru plain of Aomori Prefecture.  The better known Iwaki mountain has three peak; Iwaki san shrine is located at its base, below a relatively smooth slope. Akakura mountain, in turn, also has three peaks, but is noted for its rough, volcanic surface and is dominated by a great gorge. For centuries, worshippers have undertaken ascetic discipline (shugyo) on its slopes, many climbing to the Waterfall of Fudo (Fudo taki) about halway up the mountain.

There are several geographical sites known as "Akakura" (lit. red storage hall) in northern Tohoku, some of which have long-term ritual and cosmological links to Mount Akakura. These include Akakura gorge on Mt. Hakkoda and the Akakura route on Mount Mahiru in Akita Prefecture.

For an overview of Akakurayama (Akakura mountain), see Immortal Wishes, pp. 32-36

Click on the thumbnails for larger images.

Read an ethnographic account of ascetic practice on Akakura Mountain

Related Internet Resources

Local Newspaper Coverage of Folk Shamans in Aomori PrefectureI by IKEGAMI Yoshimasa

This fascinating website contains passages from "Sacred Mountains of the World," by Edwin Baldwin, University of California Press, 1997, about Konohana Sakuya Hime, the principal goddess of Mount Fuji.



Website developed by Ellen Schattschneider (Brandeis University)