Visit Fudarakusan-ji, a temple of a unique kind.
In addition to the Kumano pilgrimages, other faiths brought pilgrims to the region. One of these is Fudaraku Shinko. This particular branch of Buddhism worships Kannon, the bodhisattva of compassion, often portrayed in statues and paintings as a merciful female divinity.
Said to have been founded by Ragyo Shonin, who arrived in Japan from India in the 4th century, this temple attracted believers who thought that Nirvana was located beyond the sea and that Kannon would help worshippers reach this paradise of eternal salvation.
It is said that in the 9th century AD a resident monk of this temple set to sea on a small vessel with a hut built inside and only 30 days’ worth of provisions. He never returned, but by making this one-way journey of self-sacrifice, faithful worshipers believed he would help the whole of humanity in their struggle to reach salvation.
In the following centuries, a total number of 25 monks sacrificed themselves on similar boat journeys leaving the temple, the last one in the 18th century.
In addition to a stone monument remembering the names of these 25 monks, a replica of the small boats used for this ritual sacrifice is on show within the temple.