Climbing Mt. Nantai Ceremony


Climbing Mt. Nantai Ceremony(tohaisai 登拝祭 )

***** Location: Japan, Nikko
***** Season: Late Summer
***** Category: Observances

This is a ceremony in many parts, starting in July and can go on until August. It is important in the rituals of the mountain ascetics of this area.
Starting on August 1 is most common. Starting at midnight with drums and conches blown, the pilgrims reach for the summit to watch the sunset from there. The dark climb is lit by a few spots with torches or lanterns.

Mount Nantai 男体山 at the side of Lake Chuzenji in Nikko is a sacred mountain and this ceremony goes back more than 1200 years.

Praying at the innermost sanctum
gonaijin sanpai 御内陣参拝

男体山登拝 / Climbing Mt. Nantai

© www.nikko-jp.org/tohaisai

Other names

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


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shichigatsu ya shiro shoosoku no tohaisai

july is here !
mountain climbing ceremony
in white robes

大類 匡光 Masateru Ohrui

Tr. Gabi Greve


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Mount Nantai, Nantai san 男体山 in Nikko

Mt. Nantai is also called Mt. Futara, and the name of Futara is derived from Potalaka in Sanskrit. Also, Futara can be divided into two Japanese words. One is futa, which means two in Japanese, and another word is ara, which means storm. The meaning of combination of those two words is two storms. According to a legend, god of wind and god of thunder appear at Byoubuiwa rocky screen and bring the two storms a year. Moreover, Futara can be pronounced Nikoh in another way of reading. You can imagine that the Nikoh became Nikko later.

Landscape of Oku-Nikko has been created dramatically by natural environment like an eruption. Lake, waterfall, grassy plain and marshland are gathered like a miniature garden.

 © www.nikko-jp.org


WKD: Basho in Nikko

Matsuo Basho wrote:

Kurokami-yama, which means "Mount Raven Locks," though wreathed in spring mists, was still white with snow. Sora composed a verse:

With my hair clean shorn,
I came to Mount Raven Locks
On Garb Changing Morn.

Mount Kurokami is another name for Nantaisan which rises above Nikko. The slopes are covered with ancient trees which makes it appear black when seen from a distance, hence the name. The snow on its peak is one of the eight famous views of Nikko, but the image as Basho uses it also sets up a contrast between the black mountain and the white snow. But the contrast is both maintained and resolved in the sense that both Sora and the mountain have changed their garb and yet they are different in the sense that one has hair.

Sora / Oku no Hosomichi


Nantai san no ame ni naritaru tsutsuji kana

Mount Nantai
now in the rain ...

Minagawa Bansui 皆川盤水

Tr. Gabi Greve

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 © PHOTO : satochan

Related words

***** Fuji, Mt. Fuji, Fujiyama, Fujisan Mount Fuji, Japan


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