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3 days tour to Kunisaki Peninsula - Syncretization of Shinto and Buddhism

2016.10.25

Introduction

■What is Kunisaki peninsula?
Kunisaki Peninsula is an isolated mountainous region deep in rural Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands. It is known as sacred place where ascetic Buddhist monks trained to attain spiritual enlightenment.
The landscape shaped by volcanoes, such as Futago-san Mountain located in the centre of the peninsula , the area is rich in natural resources such as andesite and tuff.
As a result, you will find Fudo Myo-o carved in cliffs and rocks in river and also stone statues of Nio around the area.
* Fudo Myo-o: The Wisdom King Acala who is the guardian of Buddhism and one of the five Wisdom kings. He carries devil-subduing sword in right hand, holds rope in left hand and is seated on rock.
* Nio: Statues of two wrath-filled and muscular guardians of the Buddha. Agyō, open-mouthed statues who is the symbol of overt violence and Ungyō. Symbolises latent strength, holding his mouth tightly shut.
It is said that 80% of stone statues of Nio is found in Kunisaki Peninsula. Apart from status of Nio, thanks to unique local religious culture, you will also find various Buddhism statues in many different expressions, in anger, modesty, humorous and so on.

Kunisaki has been certified as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) for highly regarded integrated Forestry, Agriculture and Fisheries system.
The region consisted of ridges and gorges and arable lands were limited. There was no land to create ponds and furthermore, low rainfall and volcanic soil made difficult to obtain enough water.
Ancestors planted Kunugi, Sawtooth Oaks to collect water and build connected system of Sawtooth Oak forests and multiple interlinked irrigation ponds.
Sawtooth Oaks are regularly trimmed and logs are used to cultivate Shiitake mushrooms. It helps to stimulate the forest’s metabolism and to conserve the various ecosystems.
Thanks to this rich natural environment and recycling-based agricultural systems, it is also the only area in Japan to cultivate Shichitoi rush, which used to weave luxurious tatami mats.

■History
Kunisaki Peninsula is known as the place where Shinbutsu-shugo first begun in Japan. Shinbutsu-shugo is syncretization of Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan which involves the worship of ancestors and nature spirits and believes in sacred power, with Buddhism which arrived in Japan in the sixth century. This is a common religious belief in modern day Japan and said to begun from Usa Shrine in Kunisaki Peninsula.
The peninsula is also known for a unique local Buddhist culture called "Rokugo Manzan", which contains elements of Buddhism, Shinto and mountain worship. It revolves around the peninsula's numerous temples and Usa Shrine and was founded by a legendary monk called Ninmon Bodhisattva in 718.
For example, Torii, a gate which marks the entrance to sacred space and normally found at the entrance of Shinto shrine, is also found at Buddhist temples. Furthermore, both Kamidana, Shinto altars and Butsudan, Buddhist altars are often found in one household.
Visit some of the most undisturbed spiritual places of Japan with over 1,300 years of history.

■Highlights
- Explore GIAHS certified and highly recognised recycling-based agricultural systems of the region .
- Explore and experience Japan's religious culture and history where Shinbutsu-shugo first begun.
- Enjoy our exclusive tour - special viewing of Buddha status designated as Japan's National Treasure, private Goma rituals and local hot spring reserved only for tour guests.
- Seasonal activities such as Japanese tea picking and enjoy beautiful autumn foliage.

■Sample itinerary
----Day 1-----
12:00PM
Meet your guide at Oita Airport, then have a lunch (Approx. 2 hours flight from Haneda Airport in Tokyo).

1:30PM
After enjoying lunch, visit an iconic temple and of the region, which founded over 1,300 years ago and flourished as the centre of ascetic training. Explore Nio-mon Gate (Gate of Deva) at the temple and listen to Buddhist sermons.

3:00PM
Hike and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Kunisaki from hill-top.

4:30PM
Visit a mysterious temple known only by locals
Witness and experience Shinbutsu-shugo, syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism. You will find various Torii which is the symbol of Shinto together with Odo, a large hall of Buddha at the temple. There is also a pair of Nio statues, both in different shapes and expressions.

6:00PM
Check in at hot spring inn
The inn is located near National Treasure and has distinct atmosphere. Relax and enjoy the warmth of wooden building and nature around the inns.

----Day 2-----
9:30AM
After breakfast, join your tour guide and experience Zazen, Zen meditation at a temple designated as National Treasure.
The temple's Amida-do Hall the oldest wooden building existent in Kyushu region and is known as Japan's Three Greatest Amida-do Hall together with the Phoenix Hall of Byodo-in in Kyoto and the Golden Hall of Chuson-ji Temple. Meditate and experience Buddhism at the temple.

10:30AM
Explore on traditional festival of the region - Shujo Onie Fire Festival.
Visit temples where the festival is held and watch a short film on the festival at Prefectural Museum. In the nearby area, you will find an unique Shinto Shrine which worships Myo-o that carved in rocks in the river.

1:00PM
After lunch, visit various sightseeing sites in Kunisaki
- View and appreciate Buddha statues from special and unique place
- Hike and enjoy Japan's oldest and largest Magaibutsu, stone Buddha carved in cliff.
- Visit a shrine where Shinbutsu-shugo, syncretisation of Shinto with Buddhism said to begun.

5:00PM
EXCLUSIVE by Beauty of Japan - Enjoy local Onsen
Relax and enjoy the Onsen, hot spring, reserved only for Beauty of Japan tour guests. You may have a chance to see a beautiful sunset over coastline on the way.

6:30PM
Check in at farmers inn
Experience traditional living by Japanese farmers - enjoy freshly picked vegetables from nearby fields and mountains for dinner and sleep on tatami mats.

----Day 3-----
7:30AM
Join your tour guide after breakfast. Pick and harvest vegetables in season.

9:30AM
EXCLUSIVE by Beauty of Japan - Experience private Goma rituals
Goma-Kito, is an act of praying with a sacred fire burning. It is believe that the fire will burn off carnal desires and your prayers will be heard.

10:30AM
Visit a temple known as long-lasting good luck especially for women.
The temple is known for its mystic atmosphere number of Kannon statues and lanterns in various shapes are found. The temple is also known as long-lasting good luck especially for women and winning lotteries. It is believed that you will win lottery if losing tottery ticket is offered.

"10:30AM
Visit a temple known as long-lasting good luck especially for women.
The temple is known for its mystic atmosphere number of Kannon statues and lanterns in various shapes are found. The temple is also known as long-lasting good luck especially for women and winning lotteries. It is believed that you will win lottery if losing tottery ticket is offered.

12:30PM
After lunch, visit a Buddha statue burned during traditional festival of the region - Shujo Onie Fire Festival. The statue may be burned but still, looks over well-being of the area.

2:00PM
Learn about Shichitoi from local craftsman, which is a type of rush used to weave tatami mats.
Kunisaki is the only place in Japan where Shichitoi is grown. Shichitoi is very strong and more expensive compare to other rushes as only limited amount is produced.

3:30PM
Visit a shrine where Shinbutsu-shugo, syncretisation of Shinto with Buddhism said to begun. The shrine is the main sanctum of over 40,000 hachiman shrine locations throughout the nation and worshipped by locals as guardian deity.

4:30PM
End of tour
* Please ask us for seasonal activities - Eg. Spring: Visit rape-flower field and experience Japanese tea picking, Summer: Visit sun flower fields, Autumn: Visit beautiful autumn foliage and Japanese tea picking, Winter: Visit sake warehouses and sample local Sake.
* Tour routes and contents may change.

Price per person: 55,000~110,000 Yen
*Pricing varies depending on the number of participants

Tour Detail

Tour Style
- Please contact us for tour details and other requests.
- Please note that there may be other participants.
- Program is offered in English.
Please inquire us for other languages - Eg. Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Italian, Hindi and more.
Group Size
1 to 8 persons
Duration
3 days
Destination
What's Included
- Guide
- Admission fee to facilities
- Accommodation
- Breakfast
- Dinner
What's not Included
- Please bring your comfortable pair of shoes (we will be walking around the countryside).
- Transportation fee to/from meeting point
- Lunch
- Beverage
Tour Tips
Booking process
1. Please contact us for availability and pricing through ‘BOOK IT’ button below.
2. We will check the availability and come back to you within 1 business day.
3. Payment request will be sent.
4. Reservation will be confirmed upon payment is received. Confirmation e-mail will be sent to you.

Payment method: Paypal, wire transfer, and bitcoin
*Payment needs to be made in advance

Cancellation Policy
Reservations may be cancelled without a charge up to 6 days prior to the program date.
Reservations cancelled less than 5 days before the program date will incur the following charges:
- Between 5 days and 1 day: 50% of the program charge
- Less than a day or no show: 100% of the program charge
*Time in JST