It was 806 when the Buddhist monk Kobo Daishi began meditating on Mount Misen, the tallest mountain on the Japanese island of Itsukushima with its 535 metres above sea level, where lit a holy fire that has been kept burning for 1,200 years.
The fire is known as Kiezu-no-hi, literally the Eternal Flame, or fire that never goes out, and it’s one of the Seven Wonders of Mount Misen itself.
There is a big iron pot, you can see the fire burning under the pot, and you can even drink the water boiled with the eternal flame. The boiled water is called “Reisui” and it is said that bring you the good health and fortune.
Other wonders you can see include Shakujo-no-ume the Holy Plum Tree, a plum tree said to have grown from Kobo Daishi’s staff. Since that time the tree is said to be sensitive to the state of the nation with it failing to bloom in years when ominous signs are present or when tragedy strikes.
Others are Mandara-iwa, a rock with writing and illustration from Kobo Daishi itself, and Kanman-iwa, Ebb-and-Flow Rock, a rock where saltwater rises and subsides inside its hollow according to the tide.
However, two of Misen’s wonders have been lost: Shigure-zakura, Dewy Cherry Tree, a cherry tree that was always moist with dew even on dry days, and Ryuoto No Sugi, Dragon Fire Cedar, a Japanese cedar tree that could be seen as mysterious lights from the sea.
The cherry tree was cut down and the cedar died, leaving only a stump.
And the last of Misen’s wonders can only be heard.
Hyoshigi-no oto, literally the Sound of Wooden Clappers, is said to be the sound of beating wooden clappers coming from nowhere.
According to a local legend, the sound comes from a tengu, a goblin who lives in the mountain.
While the wonders add some mystery to the mountain there is also a wide variety of undisturbed forest and huge rock formations in addition to the temple outposts, caves and natural environment of the area. You can also see deer, and in the Japanese Shinto religion they are said to be messengers of the gods.
Images from web – Google Research