DRAGON GODDESS OF HAKUSAN
Mt. Haku-san stands on the boundary between Ishikawa and Gifu, in Haku-san National Park. The main peak of Mt. Haku-san was formed by volcanic activity and has seven alpine lakes and numerous snowy valleys along with famous waterfalls such as the Uba-ga-taki Falls, alpine plants, and beech forests. The mountain commands stunning views of the extensive volcanic landscape.
Mt. Haku-san, also renowned as a mountain climbed in a form of Shinto worship, is one of the three most famous peaks in Japan, and a popular destination for trekking. At its base is a hot springs village, consisting of five hot springs including Nakamiya and Iwama, and other springs dotted around the area available for the climbers of Mt. Haku-san.
The ascetic Hakusan Mountain Religion practiced a spiritual
philosophy that emphasized an oneness with nature and the spiritual re-birth
possible for all human beings as a result of this harmonious unity. This is the
enduring message that originated from the mythological beginnings of the
spirituality of Mt. Haku-san.
The three deities Izanagi no mikoto, Izanami no
mikoto, and Kukurihime no kami are connected with Mt. Hakusan. Kukuri
is the goddess who arbitrated between Izanagi and Izanami and is
the dragon goddess of Hakusan.
The following is excerpted from the Shirayama-no-Ki,
the Chronicle of Mt. Haku-san:
“A great holy mountain steeps at the village of Michi of
Ishikawa-Goori in the Province of Kaga (present southeastern part of Ishikawa
Prefecture). The famous mountain is called Mt. Hakusan (the white mountain). On
the mountaintop lives one of the greatest Japanese deities named Shoichii
Hakusanmyori Daibosatsu (the Top-ranked, Mt. Hakusan Personified,
Bodhisattva). The deity's authentic identity is Juichimen Kanjizai-Bosatsu
(the Eleven Faced Bodhisattva).
On the top of the mountain lives another great deity named Betsuzan-
Daigyoji, the indigenous god of Mt. Hakusan. His real identity is Sho
Kannon (the Sacred Avalokitesvara).
A predominating mountain behind the Gozen-ga-Mine is Tsurugi-no-Oyama
(the mountain of sword, present Ken-ga-Mine). The mountain has a pond at
its foot called Midori-no-Ike (the green pond, present Midori-ga-Ike).
A legend tells that people can obtain a long life after drinking water from the
pond. A small shrine flanks the mountain, enshrining the deity, Hakusanmyori-Daigongen,
who has the same identity as the previous Hakusanmyori-Daibosatsu.
According to an old legend, the god once revealed himself out of the green
In the west of the pond, there is also a small shrine, where
the deity of Betsuzan (another mountain) used to live. Later the god
gave up the residence to Hakusanmyori Daigongen and moved to another mountain,
present Nanzan (the southern mountain). Meanwhile, the west side of the
pond forms a deep valley covered eternal snow, named Chitose-Dani (the
thousand-year valley). The southern part of the valley is called Ryu-no-O
(the dragon's tail), and has relics of Taicho-Daishi's (the founder of
Mt. Hakusan holy ground) pilgrimage at its bottom.. The place is still visibly
sacred with no trees and grasses growing.
Taking these facts into consideration, Mt.Hakusan is an
equivalent to Mt. Godaisan in China, the world-famous holy ground. Mt. Godaisan
is the place where Monju Bosatsu (the Bodhisattva of Beautiful Splendor)
lives, while Hakusan is the place where Kannon Bosatsu (the Bodhisattva
of hearing the sounds of the world) blesses people with mercy. Just like people
who has once visited the holy Godaisan never fail to receive blessings from Monju
Bosatsu, it is doubtless that people can get mercy from Kannon Bosatsu
once they have climbed up to Mt. Hakusan for worship.
The treasure pond lies in the valley in the east of the
mountaintop. Although it is a rarely visited area, a legend tells that Nichiiki-no-Shonin
(a virtuous priest) once visited there and drunk from the pond. The water
tasted just like the water from the heavenly pond. The pond was said to ruffle
suddenly without any wind and emit light when the sky was clear and calm.
Another legend tells us that in this area the light of Buddha's head emerged in
On the northern side of the pond on the table stone is a
shrine, where the image of Fudo Myoo (Immovable Radiant King, wearing a
fire wheel on his back) is enshrined. In the east of the shrine predominates
another mountain. Quite different from other mountains, the color of the whole
mountain is burning red, and therefore, the mountain is called Hi-no-Miko-no-Mine
(the Fire Prince's Peak).
Beneath the mountain lies a spring on a huge table stone called Tamadono-no-Izumi
(the spring of the jewelry palace). Blessed with unfathomable amount of water,
the spring has never run out even if thousands of worshippers scoop up water
and never changed its water level in any heavy rains. There is also a pond on
the mountaintop, called Ame-no-Ike (the rainy pond). Beside the pond is
a small temple, enshrining the images of Sansho Gongen (the three
deities of Mt. Hakusan).
Getting downward for a while from the temple, you can see a
cascade running down. Its name is Taka-daki (the tall cascade). This
rarely visited cascade is too tall to measure and its falling water produces a
huge trailing white cloud in the air. A red light like the fire Fudo Myoo
wears on his back sometimes appears from the inside of the cloud. People who
witnessed the light are deeply moved and cannot stop tears running down, and
are purified out of their sins. Starting from the next stone chamber and going
down a slope, you can see a peak of a mountain ahead. It is called Waratsu-no-Omine
(the peak of straw footwear).
At the end of the slope there is a shrine called Ryo-Shin
(the two gods) enshrining Ryu-jin (the god of dragon, or the god of
water), another shrine comes next. This is called Kabo-no-Miya, whose
authentic deity is Kokuzo Bosatsu (the Space Storehouse Bodhisattva).
Next is a facility called Kako-no-Watashi, a huge thick straw-cord
bridged over the great river (present Mizoe-River), fixed up with both
sides of the river, and it substitutes a real bridge. People cross the river on
a palanquin suspended with the rope by a moving gear system.
The following descriptions are related to the
characteristics of deities of the seven major shrines of Mt. Hakusan based on
the theory of Honchi-Suijaku.
The Deity of Hongu -- seated on the top of the deity hierarchy: Its Honchi
(the Buddhist-side identity) is Juichimen Kannon (the Eleven Faced Avalokitesvara)
and its Suijaku (the Shinto-side appearance) is a goddess.
The Deity of Kinkengu -- the first prince of Hakusan: Its Honchi
is Kurikara Myoo and its Suijaku is a male god. He is wearing a
golden crown on his head, a robe on his body, and hanging a silver bow and
golden arrows together with a stroke of a sword made of gold.
The Deity of San-no-Miya -- the third princess of Hakusan: Its Honchi
is Senju Kannon (the Thousand Armed Avalokitesvara) and its Suijaku
is a female figure. The costume is the same as that of Hongu.
The Deity of Iwamotogu -- the second prince of Hakusan: It is Zenji
Gongen. The Honchi is Jizo Bosatsu (the Bodhisattva of
Storehouse of the Earth) and its Suijaku is a priest figure.
The Deity of Chugu: The Honchi is Nyoirin Kannon (the Wish
Fulfilling Avalokitesvara) and the Suijaku is the same as Hongu.
However, the appearance is said to be a child. That is, the deity is an infant
goddess. The Chugu is dedicated to Nyoirin Kannon, the authentic
deity of the shrine. Later the shrine enshrines Sansho Gongen.
The Deity of Saragu: The Honchi is Fudo Myoo (Immovable Radiant
King) and the Suijaku is the same as Kinkengu. The Hayamatsu-sha
enshrines Fugen Bosatsu (the Bodhisattva of Universal Beauty) and Monju
Bosatsu (the Bodhisattva of Beautiful Splendor). These are the authentic
identities for the two infant deities.
The Deity of Betsugu: The Honchi is the Sansho Gongen as Juichimen
Kannon, Amida Nyorai and Sho Kannon. Juichimen Kannon
is also the Suijaku. The appearance is the same as Hongu. Amida
Nyorai appears as an old man with strange eyes. The coloring of the image
is calm. The image of Kannon is smiling, resembling a face of an
Imperial court minister. It carries a silver bow and golden arrows.”