April 23, 2019

Yama-zakura (Prunus jamasakura) blossoms: Mt. Yoshino (Nara prefecture)

Yama-zakura (Prunus jamasakura) blossoms: Mt. Yoshino (Nara prefecture)

I recently visited Mt. Yoshino (Nara Prefecture of Japan), which is the most renowned place for magnificent cherry blossoms in Japan.

Mt. Yoshino is also one of the most important places of mountain worship in Japan, where the ascetic practices of Shugendo (Japanese mountain asceticism-shamanism comprised of Shintoism and esoteric Buddhism) have been continually inherited from the remote past.

Kinpusen-ji temple, which is located in the center of this sacred mountain area, is said to have been founded by En no Gyoja, who was a legendary holy man known for his practice of mountain asceticism during the second half of the 7th century.

For over a thousand years, numberless "Yama-zakura" cherry trees have continued to be planted in this area as the sacred trees dedicated to Zao Gongen which is the principal image of Kinpusen-ji temple and the highest object of worship in Shugendo.

(Additional new photographs of the cherry blossoms of Mt. Yoshino and Kyoto are uploaded to my another photoblog, "Like floating clouds and flowing streams.")

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