The Higanesan & Jukkoku-toge Hiking Course
This is “the hiking course guided by Buddha” in which Buddhist images installed at every important point will show you the way. As its name implies, Jukkokutouge Sancho Station overlooks ten provinces (Izu, Suruga, Totoumi, Kai, Shinano, Musashi, Sagami, Awa, Kazusa and Shimousa), and you can get a fine view of Mt. Fuji from there, too. (“Jukkoku” means “ten countries or provinces.”)
Higanesan Tokoji Temple is an old temple of the Shingon sect said to have been founded by Matsuba Sennin as an ascetic practice place for mountain worship. At the back of the temple are the hokyoin-to (stone pagodas) belonging to the graves of Matsuba Sennin, Mokusho Sennin and Konji Sennin, which are called “Higane no Sansenninzuka (three burial mounds)”.
The principal image of Tokoji is the brass statue of the guardian deity of children, as well as, many stone Buddhist images, a five-ring tower, a three-storied stone pagoda and others, in the precincts of the temple. Some of the most eye-catching are the Great King Enma and Datsueba, who are placed on both sides of the entrance. 《When the dead are on their way to the other world, the pitiless hag called Datsueba strips them of their clothes on the side of Sanzu no Kawa (the Styx). She is also called “Sozuka no Uba.” 》
The temple is crowded with a great many visitors during the equinoctial weeks of spring and autumn. There are several pilgrim roads for these visitors originating in various parts of the country.
The road leading to the temple from Izumi, Atami City, near the border with Kanagawa Prefecture has been revamped as “the hiking course with stone Buddhist images.”
This course was built by widening and improving the narrow path that had fallen into disuse due to weakened faith. The images called “chobutsu” which served as guideposts were reviewed and new ones were installed if necessary. Chobutsu were installed at every other cho (109 meters) all the way to Higanezan Tokoji Temple, and new ones were also installed at every half a cho.
Take a bus for Fudo-taki at Yugawara Station (some other routes are also available), and after a 10-minute ride get off at Ochiai-bashi bus stop. At the far end of the bridge stands the stone Buddhist image, and the pagoda that says “The starting point of Higanesan Road.,” You can find the guidemap of the Higanesan & Jukkoku-toge Hiking Course ahead of you.
Pass a souvenir shop and go up the steep slope. On the top of the slope ahead is the entrance to “Minobusan Yugawara Betsuin (branch temple).”
On the right side of the bottom of the stone stairs is the chobutsu of 1-chome.
You’ll find the chobutsu of 1.5-chome, 2-chome and so on at nearer spots than expected.
You can see various chobutsu such as old ones covered with moss, or a new one and an old one placed side by side. They can be found on both sides of the road, and if you are absent-minded, you are likely to overlook some of them. But since guideposts for the hiking course are also available, you’ll never lose your way.
Pass Ocho Bridge, the Izumi water treatment plant, and Arasuke Bridge. The road will abruptly become narrower when you have passed 18-chome.
Beyond 19-chome a little higher up, is the water tank of the Izumi high-zone, first distribution reservoir, which is the trailhead of the Higanesan Hiking Course.
Go along the road to the temple on the right. Go up the gentle slope through the cypress grove. There are some small branch roads, but the chobutsu will show you the way without fail.
Beyond 21-chome you’ll see a big stone Buddhist image, and since the stone monument beside it has an inscription saying “Halfway up Higanesan,” it follows that you’ve come just halfway to the top (it is 42 cho to the top of Higanesan).
Cross streams a few times, and as you go up through the cypress grove, you’ll find a forest road just beyond 28-chome.
Higher up you’ll find the Izumi high-zone water source. A thick pipe is laid toward the lower reaches from the water tank there.
As you go further uphill, the shrubs will be exchanged for a bright path with bamboo leaves. Turn left at 38-chome and cross a stream, and you can see Japanese andromeda trees.
When the road becomes gentler, you’ll find a branch road which leads to Yugawara. If you turn to the left, you’ll head for Iwatoyama.
Turn right to go to Higanesan. Cross the thick log bridge, and Higanesan Tokoji Temple will be close by.
Go up along the broad road from the left of Tokoji Temple, and you’ll come to the Children’s Limbo. You’ll find “the inscription of the tanka by Sanetomo Minamoto,” the third general of the Kamakura era, in the middle of the road through sedge, and you can view Mt. Fuji in front of you.
As its name implies, Jukkokutouge Sancho Station (Higanesan) overlooks ten provinces (Izu, Suruga, Totoumi, Kai, Shinano, Musashi, Sagami, Awa, Kazusa and Shimousa), and you can get a fine view of Mt. Fuji from there, too.
It is 5.3 kilometers from Ochiai Bridge to this spot, and this course takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes. If your legs are still strong enough, you can enjoy Himenosawa Park’s athletic hiking course, or visit Izusan Shrine or Mongawa, Yugawara, via Iwatoyama.a.