DISCOVER ANOTHER JAPAN SAN'IN Vol.2
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The Stone Stairs of Praying on the approach to Nageiredo are also called the 20 Steps for Eye-opening. In the old days, a blind visitor wishing for his sight to return came to bring heavy stone steps from the foot of the mountain. He made the round trip, stone by stone, many times and when he finally finished the 20th step his eyes opened with his vision returned. 3Nageiredo is made up of two complexes. Zao-do (temple that enshrines Zao-gongen) and Aizen-do (temple that enshrines Aizen-Myoou)Aizen-do is smaller than and is estimated to have been built before Zao-do. The structures of Aizen-do are very different from other buildings of the same era. It looks more like one of the Bud-dhist objects called zushi (a miniature temple alter to place Buddhist statues). Some people believe that Aizen-do was built at the base of the mountain and carried up, just like a Omikoshi (a Shinto palanquin) on peo-ple’s shoulders. 5What!?Why!?What!?Why!?The wooden statue of Zao-gongen from Nageiredo has been moved to the treasure hall of Sanbutsuji-temple so visitors can view it there. Three Wooden tags and some ancient writings were found in the wooden statue of Zao-gongen, when it was restored in 1914. From that ancient writing, it was discovered that the statue was made by Koukei, a famous sculptor of Bud-dhist statues around 1152 to 1196.4What!?Why!?6What!?Why!?In the Heian period, Samanosuke Okubo, a skilled archer, samu-rai warrior and servant of Yoshitomo Minamoto (father of the shōgun Yoritomo Minamoto) was visiting Mt. Mitoku, to pray for the revival of the Minamoto clan. He encountered an old white wolf on the way. Upon contempla-tion that old beasts could be an incarnation of Buddha or the gods, he released his nocked bow and instead decided to let it go.That night, Myoken-Bosatsu (Myoken Bodhisattva – god of the North Star) appeared in Samanosuke’s dream. In appreciation for sparing the life of the white wolf he told him of the location of a hot spring. That is how Misasa Onsen was discovered. Misasa Onsen (Misasa literally means three mornings) was named because on the morning of your third day at Misasa Onsen, you will feel re-invigorated.25

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