Kunisaki Peninsula – The Sacred Journey of Mineiri in Japan

Kunisaki mineiri

During the Medieval period, the monks residing in Kunisaki Peninsula were filled with awe and reverence for the supernatural forces and ferocity of oni (demons), which they believed to be incarnations of deities.

In their pursuit of obtaining supernatural powers, these monks embarked on a pilgrimage through Daimasyo, the dwelling place of these oni.

This sacred journey, known as Mineiri, meaning “entering the mountains,” led them to construct temples in various locations across the Kunisaki Peninsula, which had long been feared as the den of oni. Gradually, more people started settling in the area, and villages began to form.

The tradition of Mineiri has endured in Kunisaki Peninsula for centuries. Pilgrims traverse mountain trails, chanting Buddhist mantras throughout their arduous journey.

Mineiri of Rokugo Manzan in Kunisaki Peninsula

Among the many Mineiri conducted in the Kunisaki Peninsula, the Mineiri of Rokugo Manzan holds a special place. This ancient pilgrimage is considered one of the oldest circular pilgrimages in Japan and boasts the largest participation.

Spanning over a total of six days and covering approximately 160 km, this journey has been undertaken since time immemorial. Although there are no clear historical records of the Mineiri prior to the Edo period (1603-1868), it is believed that ascetic practices were performed even before that time.

There are mentions of Mineiri in the Heian period (794-1185) as well. Ascetic monks who visited Rokugo Manzan’s temples and holy sites would perform incantations and prayers for the villagers, bringing blessings and happiness to each village.

The Mineiri tradition briefly ceased during the Meiji period (1868-1912) but was revived after the war, thanks to the unwavering faith of the ordinary people.

Minemichi in Rokugo Manzan in Kunisaki Peninsula

Rokugo Manzan

Minemichi is a trail that traverses the Kunisaki Peninsula, connecting the sacred sites of Rokugo Manzan. This path is used for the ascetic practice of Mineiri, which takes place once every ten years.

Starting from Usa Jingu Shrine, the ascetics embark on a challenging journey through the peaks of the Kunisaki Peninsula, navigating steep mountain paths and rocky terrain. Along the way, they visit temples and rock caverns of Rokugo Manzan, engaging in various ascetic practices. Many of these ascetic sites still bear the traces of the practices performed by the monks of Rokugo Manzan.


In 2019, the “Rokugo Manzan no Mineiri no Michi” (the Path of Mineiri in Rokugo Manzan), spanning the three cities of Usa, Bungotakada, and Kunisaki, was recognized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs as one of the top 100 historical paths.

This prestigious selection criterion only includes paths associated with religious beliefs that hold significance across multiple regions. As such, it is the first and only path in Kyushu to be designated as a “path of faith.”

Tennenji Temple Yaba in Kunisaki Peninsula

Tennenji Temple Yaba

Tennenji Temple Yaba is one of the most challenging sections along the Minemichi trail in Rokugo Manzan.

The mountain behind Tennenji Temple is home to ancient ruins and remnants, including caverns and kyozuka (mounds for Buddhist scriptures). As pilgrims navigate through rocky sections equipped with chains, they eventually reach the Mumyobashi Bridge, perched high in the mountains.

Legend has it that as long as one’s mind remains pure, they will not fall from this stone bridge.

How about experiencing a journey where you can immerse yourself in the true culture and traditions of the Japanese countryside?

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