Omi watari 御神渡り
In the Suwa basin, where I live, there are 2 legendary gods. They are lovers living at the opposite sides of the Suwa Lake. Once a year, in early February, the male god crosses the lake from the South shore to visit the female god. His steps leaves footprints in the cracked ice in the form of floe, lifted and piled up above the frozen lake. I was there one time, at midnight, witnessing his invisible figure crossing with thunder sounding all around the mountains. I was afraid that I might have been swallowed beneath the ice if I moved even a little bit. The next morning, a shrine priest blessed their secret date and the trace of their love melted away soon after. I believe that there must be someone envious of their love, because Omiwatari does not occur in recent years.
“Sa” Divine lands of Kura, where the petals of blossoming trees are covered in mist by the night dew and reflect the rays of the morning light. The ancient meaning of the word “Sa” is “rice crop”. “Kura” means the residing object of a divine spirit. It is believed that on a starry night, the Mountain Deity descends upon a village with stellar lights and dwells in cherry trees. During the season that deity becomes a guardian of the rice fields. I faced him alone at a shrine upon a hill.
Kai Komagatake 甲斐駒ヶ岳
Kai Komagatake Mountain is considered to be the spiritual base of the Koshin region. It is one of the main sites of practice for a religious tradition lineage called 'Ontake-Ko' (who self identify as Yamabushi). This region in the past was closed off from the outside world for millennia because of the steep mountains surrounding it. The villagers used to visualize the divine beings, living in the other world, beyond those mysterious mountains. Now, people here still have faith in Mountain Gods and talk to them in. One day, I talked to a manifestation of Marishiten dwelling at the Kai Komagatake Mountain. He replied and smiled to me with beautiful rainbow. Gods are like this.
Yuji Miyoshi is a martial artist, gyoja and famous photographer from Nagano prefecture. Originally submitted for the Shugendo Cultural Studies Magazine.