About Mirokuji Temple at Mt. Kasho
This temple is sacred and prestigious with a long history. ‘Best Great-Tengu (long-nosed goblin) in Japan’ and ‘Sacrificing Great-Tengu for Road Safety’ are enshrined here. At the ‘Numata Festival’, the biggest summer festival in Numata, ‘Tengu Mikoshi (portable shrine)’ are carried by only women and has been very popular and the center of the festival.
In addition, the Goshintai (object of worship) is worshiped at public exhibition once in every ten years at Mirokuji Temple. Next one will be held in 2025. So looking forward to seeing it.
Mt. Kasho, Sacred Mountain of Tengu
Mt. Kasho is located in the sacred grounds of deep mountain valleys ranging Hotaka Mountains, approximately 16 kilometers north of downtown Numata. New greens sprout out in spring, the sacred bird ‘Buppouso (oriental dollarbird)’ sings in summer, leaves turn into red and yellow over the mountains in fall, and white snow covers it in the winter.
Mirokuji Temple was initial opened in 848. By request of Prince Kazurawara, the son of Kanmu Emperor, Jikaku Daishi priest, head priest of Tendai sect at Mt. Hiei, was invited to the temple and became the first generation. Later, the temple was converted to the Soto sect. It became an honorable temple which was entitled 100 Koku (approx. 100,000 ㎡) of land worth 100,000 Koku of social status as a prayer hall for first shogun (general) of Tokugawa.
It is a customary practice to borrow Tengu mask from Chuho hall when visiting to worship Mt. Kasho during the first year. Then, bring back the same mask when visiting next time, buy a new mask at shops in front of the temple gate, offer it to the temple, and borrow a different mask again.
Biggest Tengu Mask In Japan
The biggest Tengu mask (length of face: 6.5 meters, height of nose: 2.8 meters)※1 in Japan was made by volunteers of Commerce and Industrial Association in 1939 to pray for victory. Sacrificing Great Tengu for Road Safety (length of face: 4.0 meters, height of nose: 2.7 meters) was made by Great Tengu Support Association in 1970 in praying for road safety. Both are enshrined at Chuho hall at Mt. Kasho.
“Great Tengu for Fulfillment of Wishes※2 ”(length of face: 4.2 meters, height of nose: 2.0 meters) enshrined by Junior Chamber of Numata in 1983 was restored in 2008 due to deterioration. Along with “Great Tengu of Tourism※3” (length of face: 4.3 meters, height of nose: 2.9 meters) enshrined at ‘Tengu Plaza’ in Ueno-machi, they are carried out by women during Numata Festival on August 3rd to 5th every year and are the center of the festival with stunning popularity.
※1 it is also said that length of face is 6.7 meters and height of nose is 2.7 meters.
※2 weight of ‘Great Tengu for Fulfillment of Wishes’: unknown due to a religious object.
※3 weight of Great Tengu of Tourism’: 500kg (includes shouldering bars)
The Origin of Tengu Mask
The relationship between Numata and Tengu masks is originated in Ryugenin Mirokuji Temple at Mt. Kasho.
Mirokuji Temple was founded by Ennin-jikaku head priest of Mt. Hiei as a guardian temple for prosperity of the country and peace welfare.
A monk called Chuhouson, a disciple of Zen priest, worked very hard building a cathedral and doing missionary. He possessed divine power to lead disciplinants to the main gate of the temple over steep rocky mountains where humans could never possibly climb. Although he studied under Zen priest without intermission for ten long years, his baby face never aged.
After the Zen priest handed over the position of head priest to second generation, Taisei priest, Chuhouson vowed “I, incarnation of Kasho Buddha, already finished incarnation karma. Therefore, my soul will stay in this mountain forever from now on, take away suffering of mankind in last days and confer peace,” and ascended to heaven from the top of Mt. Anzan. It has been said that a Tengu mask was left behind.
Since then, it became customary practice to dedicate a Tengu mask believing its blessing and divine favor. A number of worshippers has increased not only from neighboring prefectures but also nationwide, and it became popular as Tengu’s mountain.
The Ceremony of Public Exhibition Once in Every Ten Years
The Buddhist altar at Chuhou hall of Mirokuji Temple is opened to public once every ten years, and the sacred object of deity can be worshipped. It was exhibited in 2015 and next one will be in 2025. Entrance fee is 1,000 yen. The prayer is conducted six times a day between 8am and 5pm.
Prayer time (year around): 6:00-, 10:30-, 11:30-, 13:30-
Please check in at the reception before prayer starts. The prayer will be done together regardless of the numbers of groups. It will be 20 to 30 minutes long.
Please contact them since it is subject to change during New Year and Golden Week holidays. Please also make sure to contact before visiting due to accumulation of snow during December to March.
Ascetic Practices Experience
Ascetic practices experience is available at Mirokuji temple. Please contact for the details of fees and schedule.