One of the most famous viewpoints of Mount Daisen.By Laura Payne
Mount Daisen in Tottori Prefecture is known for its array of beautiful views. Due to the mountain’s unique shape, its appearance changes depending on where you are. In some areas, the peak resembles Mount Fuji’s conical shape, but in other places, Daisen widens itself into a wall of stone. Kagikage Pass is considered one of the best viewpoints on Daisen’s southern side—a place where the mountain’s rock wall is on display.
Located next to one of the main local roads, cars and tour buses traveling around the mountain often take some time to stop here and admire the scenery. In this one view, some modern results of the mountain’s long history are clearly visible.
The carpet of trees seen from Kagikake Pass is one of the largest old-growth beech forests in western Japan. The health of these woods is closely connected to the spiritual traditions of Daisen.
Shinto, Buddhism and Shugendo—a practice that combines various spiritual beliefs—have deemed Daisen a sacred place for centuries. At one point, the mountain itself was even considered to be a deity. One result of this high spiritual regard was a ban on logging Daisen’s forests that lasted until recent times. This protection created today’s expansive woods, which locals still strive to preserve.
From Kagikake Pass, visitors can enjoy the beauty of Daisen’s forest in multiple seasons. In spring, trees are bright green with shinryoku (newly grown leaves). The greenery becomes fuller and richer in color as it grows throughout the summer, and during fall the trees transform into a sea of orange and red.
Throughout the centuries, Mount Daisen’s spiritual roots have made it a famous pilgrimage site. This influence can be seen in the statue of Jizo located at Kagikake Pass.
Jizo Bodhisattva (Jizo Bosatsu in Japanese) is known as the Buddhist guardian of children and travelers, and his statues are a common sight on country roads or old pilgrimage routes. The statue at Kagikage Pass resembles iccho Jizo (Jizo placed at intervals of about 109 meters), which marked established trails for travelers and informed them of how far they had walked.
Today, Kagikake Pass’s Jizo remains along the modern paved road, continuing to offer protection and inform travelers that they are heading in the right direction.