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Mt. Gahaishi

A strangely shaped mountain where the young Kūkai made a legendary leap.

Mt. Gahaishi

Mt. Gogaku is a range of mountains with five distinct peaks that dominates the skyline of Zentsūji. From east to west, the peaks are Mt. Koshiki, Mt. Fudeno, Mt. Gahaishi, Mt. Naka, and Mt. Hiage. Of these Mt. Gahaishi is the highest, with an elevation of 481 m. There are trails on and between all of the peaks, offering a range of walking options.

Mt. Gahaishi has a very imposing, misshapen appearance, and from Zentsūji, it seems to loom up challengingly. At its foot is Temple No.73, Shusshaka-ji. The temple has an inner sanctuary, the Okunoin, on the side of the mountain. From Shusshaka-ji, a paved road goes very steeply up to Okunoin, which is graced by a gilded Buddha statue and a pretty belfry. The views from here are stunning. The Seto Inland Sea is to the north, and the interior of Shikoku lies to the south. Facing south, you can see the peak of Mt. Osa to your left, topped by radio masts, and Asahiyama Park in the middle distance with its cluster of traditional buildings.

The founder of the Shikoku Pilgrimage, Kūkai, was born where Zentsū-ji Temple now stands. As a child, Kūkai was called Mao, and even then, he was pious. At the age of seven he resolved to test his relationship with the divine by jumping off a crag on Mt. Gahaishi into the ravine below. An angel appeared and carried him safely to the ground. The scene is depicted on the bell of the Okunoin. The site of Mao’s leap is further up the mountain. You pass directly under the Okunoin, and up a rocky section hung with chains. The exact spot is marked with a sign. Jumping off from there would have taken considerable faith.

From here, the path climbs steeply to the summit, which can be reached in about 20 minutes. The top of the mountain is a large flat area, and the trees largely obstruct the view. The path continues on over Mt. Fudeno and Mt. Koshiki to Zentsū-ji Temple.

This is one of several walks in this general area that combines steep climbs with temples and magnificent views.

Information

Name in Japanese: 我拝師山

Pronunciation: gahaishizan

Address: Yoshiwaracho, Zentsuji, Kagawa 765-0061

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