Omine Okugake-michi (paths) (大峯奥駈道)

"Omine Okugake-michi (paths)" is the road of ascetic practices leading to Kumano Sanzan (three major shrines, Kumano-Hongu-Taisha Shrine, Kumano-Hayatama-Taisha Shrine and Kumano-Nachi-Taisha Shrine) and is one of Kumanokodo Road.


Omine Okugake-michi, which was originally opened as the road for the place of the ascetic practices for Shugendo (Japanese mountain asceticism-shamanism incorporating Shinto and Buddhist concepts), connects Mt. Yoshino in Nara and Kumano Sanzan, and is the steepest route in Kumanokodo road. Today, generally speaking of Mt. Omine, it refers to Mt. Sanjogatake, however "Omine" in Omine Okugake-michi refers to the area from Yoshino through Mt. Sanjogatake to the far deeper mountains, and all the paths for asceticism that course longitudinally through the Omine mountains which eventually lead to Kumano Sanzan. Kyuya FUKADA introduced that he had traversed from Mt. Sanjogatake to the highest peak, Mt. Hachikyogatake in the one hundred top mountains of Japan.

Omine Okugake

It is said that Omine Okugake originally means that people head for nabiki (ascetic practice spot) beyond Ominesan-ji Temple. Ascetic practice places are referred to as "nabiki," and each of them is given an individual number. Namely, nabiki starts from Hongu Shojoden hall (No.1) of Kumano-hongu-taisha Shrine and ends at Yanagi no Shuku (No.75) at the riverbank of Kino-kawa River. Since the number of nabiki has been arranged through history, Omine seventy-five nabiki has seventy five points, but there was a time when more than seventy five nabiki were established.

Junbu (the mountaineering ascetic practice from Kumano to Yoshino) and Gyakufu (the mountaineering ascetic practice from Yoshino to Kumano)

It is known that there are two ways to travel around these ascetic practice places. One way is junbu, the mountaineering ascetic practice from Kumano to Yoshino, and the other way is gyakufu, the mountaineering ascetic practice from Yoshino to Kumano, and each of them is managed by a different sect. Junbu is led by Shogoin (Honzan school) of a branch of the Tendai sect and Gyakufu is led by Sanbo-in of Daigo-ji Temple (Tozan school) of the Shingon Sect line respectively. It was Honzan school of the Tendai sect line which controlled Kumano in the medieval period and served as the leader of pilgrimages to Kumano Sanzan. Although Honzan school was ahead of Tozan school in Omine Okugake, with decline of pilgrimages to Kumano Sanzan after the early modern times, entering from Yoshino has been considered to be common and legitimate for both schools since the Edo Period. However, junbu by a branch of the Tendai sect which led pilgrimages to Kumano Sanzan in the medieval period was revived by Seigando-ji Temple in Nachi-san Mountain; since this style is still performed today, junbu is not completely stopped.

In addition, since this area is short of watering places, it often happens that practitioner of austerities are not able to follow the route, the south of crossroad of ancient times (it is sometimes called minami okugake) in Zenki no Shuku (Zenki station) (Shimo Kitayama-mura, Nara Prefecture), and even now, temples which perform okugake practice (going through the entire distance of Omine seventy five nabiki) are limited.

[Original Japanese]