⛰ ⛰ ⛰Mountain and Japanese ⛰ ⛰ ⛰ 75% of Japan's land area is mountainous. Many of Japan’s mountains are formed by volcanic activity, unlike the Himalayas or the Alps, which were formed by the collision of continental plates. The Mountains have brought blessings, such as water, foods, woods for construction, and from time to time also have brought hazards, such as eruption, landslide by earthquakes, to the people living on the Japan’s islands since ancient times. That made people feel awed and scared of the mountains, which led the mountain worship. And the people revered the mountains were sacred areas where deities resided and where were the resting place of ancestral spirits that guarded our descendants. And that spontaneously occurred the Japanese native religion 神道 (Shinto) was no founder, no testament, natural religion, animistic in nature based on nature worship and ancestor worship. Japanese artist Ryuichi Sakamoto who passed away the other day said, “In Japanese culture, there is a belief that God is everywhere – in mountains, trees, rocks, even in our sympathy for robots or Hello Kitty toys”. The other day I climbed a mountain where is close to my place. There is an uninhabited shrine on the top of the mountain. When I entered into a main hall of the shrine, I found my father’s name on the wall. He had been dead some years. I was very surprised to find his name in the shrine because I didn’t know he made a donation to repair the shrine. On April 8, Buddha's birthday, I climbed another local mountain. This mountain used to be a place for training of 修験道 (Shugendo), which is Japanese mountain asceticism/shamanism. Buddhism was first introduced to Japan in 538 from India to China through Korean Peninsula. Shinto-Buddhist syncretism developed from the Japanese concept that Shinto deities (神) were manifestations of Buddhist divinities. The Shugendo developed under the influence of Shinto-Buddhism syncretism, notably Esoteric Buddhism. I could see the footprints of the Shinto-Buddhist syncretism and Shugendo in the mountain I climbed. Photo.1 Acalanatha Photo.2 eleven-faced Avalokiteshvara Ryojun Shionuma is one of the only people alive to have completed two of the most difficult ascetic practices of the Shugendo. “Overcoming mountains” https://youtu.be/h693zK0J3MA Nowadays we are apt to forget the benefits of nature. When the current Japanese emperor was the Crown Prince, he said, "I sincerely hope that many people will appreciate the benefits mountains give us and that they will work together to preserve nature for future generations." I hope you understand the Japanese historical background about the mountains and respect it when you go to climb the mountains in Japan. The mountains are not merely a place to enjoy hiking for Japan people.

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