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Case Files: Mount Osore, Japan

If there was one location, that stuck with me, for my entire researching career, it was Mount Osore, in Osorezan, Japan. Mount Osore (長野県大空山, "Great Sky Mountain") is a sacred mountain located in Aomori Prefecture, Japan. It is an active volcano situated at the northernmost tip of Honshu, the main island of Japan. The mountain is part of the Shimokita Peninsula, which is surrounded by the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean.

Osore had been an important religious site in Japan since ancient times. It is considered a sacred place where the dead come to pass on to the afterlife. The mountain is associated with a variety of Buddhist, Shinto, and folk religions, and is a place of pilgrimage for many Japanese people. Visitors can enjoy the view of the crater lake, Maedake, and the surrounding volcanic landscape. The area is also known for its unique geothermal features, including hot springs, mud pools, and steam vents.

Mount Osore is a beautiful and spiritual place to visit, and a great way to experience Japan's spiritual side. Whether you are looking for a spiritual experience, or simply want to take in the stunning views, Mount Osore is a must-visit destination.

I was there twice, once to walk through the grounds and feel the area, before bringing a full team up there to do some investigating. The first time I was there, it was an incredible experience. I went with a friend, Tom, who was in the Navy, and was very familiar with the area. When we parked, I got out of the car to the smell of rotten eggs. We were literally in a sulfur pit. To the left of us was a lake, and to the right was a huge entrance into a temple. It was an awe inspiring moment, and I felt so much energy.

Later I found out that this location was believed to be the entrance to the afterlife. It is a place of pilgrimage for many people of the Shinto faith who come to pay their respects to their ancestors. Its spiritual significance lies in the belief that it is a gateway to the realm of the dead and that the spirits of those who have passed away may come and go freely through the mountain. It is also believed to be the realm of the gods and that the souls of the dead may be judged and sent to either heaven or hell. So, there are conflictions that state that this was the “Gateway to Hell”, or “Gateway to the Dead.”

Walking into the temple grounds, it was extraordinary. I felt like there were so many entities and energies in this location alone as we walked up into the shrine areas and took in the sights of the beautiful architectures.

Then came the most remarkable part of the trip, to the left I saw a small trail leading up the hill.

When I arrived at the trailhead, I was awestruck by all the stones. These stones had kanji written on them. The spiritual significance of the written stones was that they were believed to purify the souls of the dead. The stones were inscribed with prayers, mantras, and other Buddhist verses to help guide the dead into the afterlife. The stones were seen to help the dead find peace and to help those who are still living to accept the death of their loved ones and to find solace in their own beliefs. This place was littered with them as far as the eye could see.

It was an extraordinary spiritual moment, one of psychic energies, and the sense I was in someplace otherworldly. An incredible experience. We came back again with a team from the base and explored some more.

The statues were called Jizo Statues. Jizo is a Buddhist deity known as the protector of children, unborn babies, travelers, and those who have passed away. He is often depicted wearing a red bib and hat and is believed to provide comfort and guidance to those in need.

Also, there is the Bodaiji's festival that every year usually between July 20 to the 24th, which is a memorial service dedicated to the founder of the Soto Zen sect of Buddhism, Eihei Dōgen. During the festival, a memorial service is held at Bodaiji Temple, and visitors can enjoy the beautiful scenery of Mount Osore.

The Osorezan Obon Festival also is held every year in August and is a gathering of mediums or Itako, from all over Japan who come to practice their spiritual rituals and practices. It is a unique opportunity to witness the ancient traditions of Shinto spirituality and speak with your ancestors.

The following is video from the trip.

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