Three “Brother” Mountains of Dewa (Japan)


日本語: 蜂子神社。山形県鶴岡市大字手向。出羽三山開祖の:蜂子皇子を祀る神社。 Englis...
Image via Wikipedia

Your name is Hachiko, Prince Hachiko. It is the year 593 AD. Your father, Shusun, the emperor of Japan, has been murdered by the Soga clan. You barely escaped with your own life before they could kill you as well. Broken-hearted and afraid, your home stolen by the wicked Soga, you wander  the countryside, almost aimlessly until one morning you wake from your bed on the grassy earth where you fell asleep the night before. You find a three-legged crow watching you sleep. It’s yellow eyes flick back and forth as if carefully examining you.

Intrigued by this strange creature,  you follow it to a place where three brother mountains rise in the near distance. The smallest mountain, the one closest, you name Haguro, “black wings,” in honor of the odd, little bird who led you there. You will always remember the mountain as “birth” since it is the smallest, like a new-born babe and because for the first time in weeks, you feel reborn as if your life has taken on new meaning.

In this uncharted land, you spend many days enduring difficult ascetic exercises as well as a period of penance and mourning for your dead father. Because of your devotion, you are greeted by Haguro Gongen, the deity of the mountain. In honor of the god, you travel to the tallest brother mountain who you then name, Gassan, “Moon Mountain.”

The middle brother is next and you name it, Yudono, the “Forbidden”. Because of your continued devotion, you are greeted by two more deities. Back at Haguro’s summit, you build a beautiful temple dedicated to the three mountain gods.

Soon news travels of the sacred mountains so that pilgrims make the journey from far and wide to worship the three deities of the mountains. It soon becomes a place of learning for BuddhismShinto, and TaoismEn no Gyōja and Kūkai arrive to found the Shugendō or Yamabushi (mountain warrior) sects Even the famous poet, Matsuo Basho comes to meditate and write many of his magnificent haiku. And so this place that you ran to after you lost everything except your life becomes a blessed refuge of peace and meditation for many generations to come.

References and further reading:

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia/Three Mountains of Dewa

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mountains_of_Dewa#Significance_in_Japanese_Religion

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