Famous as Most Dangerous Shrine in Japan -Otayama Shrine in Setana-
March 1st, 2016
Otayama Shrine (太田山神社) is in Setana town located in the northwestern part of Hakodate city. This is the shrine in connection with Mr. Enku (円空), famous sculptor of Buddhist images, and it is famous as the most dangerous shrine in Japan. Because there are a large shrine gate and a parking space along Hokkaido Route 740, I think that it is easy to find it. There are Ota Shrine (太田神社) and Enku Buddhist Temple (円空仏堂) near the large shrine gate, and there are a restroom and a parking lot besides Enku Buddhist Temple. By the way, a enshrined deity is Sarutahiko-no-mikoto (猿田彦命). Admission free. The parking lot is free of charge.
Originally Ainu God called Ohotamokai (オホタカモイ) lived in the Mt. Otasan (太田山), and it seems to be the beginning of Ota shrine that Mr Nobuhiro Takeda (武田信広), an original forefather of Matsumae Domain (松前), gave the Mt. Otasan a title such as the Ota Daigongen (太田大権現 * a title given to Shinto gods by believers) in 1454. Then, Mr. Enku worked on the carving of Buddhist statues at a cave almost from 1661 to 1666, and Mr. Mokujiki (木喰) worked on the carving of the Buddhist statues at the cave in 1778, too.
Because it is said to be the most dangerous shrine in Japan, various TV program seems to often visit here. The topical tourist attraction can be said. Mt. Otasan is 485 m high. A cave is located around 430 m above sea level in the vicinity of the mountaintop, and Mr. Enku stayed here and worked on the carving of Buddhist statues once. The Otasan shrine building is enshrined at this cave now. Visitors must get over many trials to go and worship there. It will take about 3 hours to get there and back. The visitors should bring water of 500 ML - 1 L. I regret not being able to drink the water. It will be still better if the visitors bring security equipments such as a insect repellent and bear-avoiding bells.
The Japan's most dangerous reason is because the front approach to shrine is alomost rough path and many stairs and rough path are steeper than the common approach to shrine. Furthermore, the visitors may meet with a wild brown bear or falling rocks and may be attacked by mamushi and insects. The risks are varied depending on seasons. One thing I can say is that there is a risk in any case.
Besides the shrine gate, a signboard, stating "Otayama Shrine does not take responsibility for the accidents that visitors climb to worship in this site", is put up. Please be careful not to cause the accident.
At first I thought steep stone steps with about 45 degrees were in danger. Ropes are provided as a safety equipment, the visitors climb the steep stone steps with using the ropes. It was like games such as Tv programs, the Takeshi's Castle (風雲たけし城) and SASUKE (サスケ), but I became strained because I was in danger of my life.
After going up the stairs, I went ahead through a trail path made of roots of trees and soil along ropes. There was a ladder iron on the way, too, and I thought that it was dangerous. But, this dangerous was better than other dangerous with hindsight in retrospect.
Several stone Buddha images came into my eyes when I climbed the trail path. I thought that I might be near a goal at that time, but about two third of the distance remained. I had a long way to go. A signboard, stating "Warning: Falling or fallen rocks", is built, too. Rocks were falling actually, visitors should be really careful.
The shrine gate (鳥居) and the shrine building (社殿) came into my eyes when I climbed for a while. I thought whether I reached the goal finally, but I got excited over nothing. This building is the shrine building named Nyonindo (女人堂 * Women's Shrine) and used to be closed to women because Ainu God lived in this mountain once. Therefore the Nyonindo was built because women were able to climb only here. It is the same as Cape Kamui (神威岬), too. Of course, women can climb till the last now, too.
The shrine gate came into my eyes when I climb the steep rough trail. This is an entrance of an iron bridge to the cave. I couild give myself a break, but true risks lie ahead. While I was careful about slippery floor of iron bridge, I reached under the cave. Iron rings linked togheter were hanged on the wall of rocks with around 9 m in height to the cave. Visitors must climb up the cliff using those iron rings. Many visitors seem to return here. I understand how that feels, too. A view from here is comfortable, too. However, I decided to climb it to reach the goal because I came here all the way. I absolutely looked at only my hands without looking at the bottom. I was scared, but I could climb the wall of rocks for about 5 minutes.
There is the shrine building in the cave that Mr. Enku and Mr. Mokujiki stayed, and the visitors wrote their wishes and dedicated those. The cave is small and it is the size that 4 people seem to enter. But the beautiful Okushiri Island (奥尻島) was looked over from here. As for paying a visit to the shrine, this is the Japan's most dangerous shrine, but it is the shrine that visitors may gain most satisfaction from the experience in Japan. Everyone, please take care of yourself and enjoy the paying a visit to the shrine.
Atmosphere of Otayama Shrine Can Be Watched on Youtube
|Admission fee||Free of charge|
|Parking lot||A free parking is provided (5 cars).|
|Business hour||Open 24 hours|
|Regular closing day||Open all year round|
|Home page||Home page is here|
|Mapcode||943 364 229*01|
List of Accommodations
Refer to following websites for the accommodations around Otayama Shrine.
|Onsen Hotel Kitahiyama(温泉ホテル きたひやま)|
|Minshuku Mathunoya(民宿 松乃屋)|
|Minshuku Nagaiso(民宿 ながいそ)|