immortal wishes:
labor and transcendence
on a Japanese sacred mountain

Ellen Schattschneider

Duke University Press (2003)

Teaching Resources

Akakura Mountain Shrine Rituals

The Mountain Opening Ceremony (Yamabiraki)

Each May 1st, the assembled congregation climbs Akakura mountain, from Akakura Mountain Shrine up to the Waterfall of Fudo (Fudo taki) to  hang a great rice straw rope (shimenawa) across the gorge.   After the ceremony has been performed the mountain is considered "open" for the performance of shugyo (ascetic discipline) on the mountainscape above the shrine itself.
  (see Immortal Wishes, pp. 94-103)


Previous Ceremony

Dragon Princess


See: Video Clips 1991 Mountain Opening

Next Ceremony

33 Tsugaru Kannonsama Pilgrimage



Related Interent Resources


The Living Rope that connects us all: Mariyo Yagi

Fascinating interview with Japanese artist Mariyo Yagi, who constructed and ritually burned a great ritual rope ("nawa") to honor the souls of those who perished in the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake in Kobe. The artist specifically mentions Tsugaru, and compares the burning rope to a "fire dragon." The symbolism of this work of performance art strikingly recalls the dynamics of the Mountain Opening rite at Akakura.

More on Mariyo Yagi and her rope-inspired art:



Website developed by Ellen Schattschneider (Brandeis University)