immortal wishes:
labor and transcendence
on a Japanese sacred mountain

Ellen Schattschneider

Duke University Press (2003)

Teaching Resources

Akakura Mountain
Sacred Places


(see Immortal Wishes, pp. 160-62)

An important destination of shugyo (ascetic discipline) on Akkaura mountain is the sacred rock of Ubaishi (Old Woman Stone) high on the left ridge above Akakura gorge. Ascetics are expected to crawl through a tunnel under the boulder six times, a process that recalls birth as well as passage throught he six realms of creation (rokudo) and which has associations with an important episode in the Kojiki (see below), in which the sun goddess Amaterasu emerges from a cave.

The path up to Ubaishi, which continues on towards the mountain summit is lined by 33 statues of Kannonsama. Usually, only experienced ascetics are allowed to venture up this path.

Related Internet Resources


THE KOJIKI. The relevant sections of the Kojiki on Amatersu's retreat into, and emergence from, the cave are found in the Kojiki chapter "Door of the Heavenly Rock Dwelling":

SEE: Sacred Texts: Shinto
A very helpful on line compilation of sacred texts in Shinto and related Japanese religious traditions, including excerpted translations of the Kojiki, the Nihongi and the Yengishiki.

Website developed by Ellen Schattschneider (Brandeis University