I climbed Mount Takao near Tokyo yesterday for a photoessay I’m working on. These are statues of “tengu” goblin, which the mountain is famous for. There are two kinds: one with green and with a beak, and one with a red face and long nose.
They both have a reputation for causing trouble – but only to people who deserve it.
Here’s a less than tempting souvenir snack!
Mount Takao is a popular day trip from Tokyo – only about an hour from Shinjuku but feels like its the middle of the countryside. It’s a truly magical place with temples, shrines and links to several religions.
There’s a Shingon temple half way up called Yakuouin. It’s Buddhist, but they have some connection with Shugendo which is an ancient Japanese mountain religion. Shugendo practioners seem to spend a lot of time climbing mountains, blowing conches and meditating under waterfalls. (You can actually join the Shungendo guys at their regular waterfall dousing if you want – I might have to go and take pictures of that!)
Every time I go to Takao I end up captivated by the statues. This chap was hiding in the grass. I only noticed that a leaf was resting on his hand when I got home.
People place coins on the statues to pray. I wonder what the bug was wishing for?
Unbelievably (or perhaps all too believeably) the Tokyo government are planning to put a tunnel through Takao! Details are here. Perhaps the tengu could do something about that!