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Mount Mitoku

: A mountain covered in ascetic religious buildings, with one of the most dangerous pilgrimage treks leading up its 900 meter heights.

A famous site of spirituality, this 900 meter high mountain has a wealth of religious sites dotted around its many trails and pathways. The mountain was designated as an important religious site near the start of the 8th century, and decimated pilgrims have been making the trek up its slopes ever since.

Almost all the important buildings here belong to Sanbutsuji Temple, including a unique cliffside natural treasure which requires an arduous trek to reach: Nageire Hall. After passing the main hall, you’ll only be permitted to make the journey up to Nageire Hall in groups of three, for your own safety.

That’s because this is probably the most dangerous temple approach in Japan. It requires that you make your way over giant boulders using handholds fixed into the rock, and even clamber up chains at the steeped sections. On the way, you’ll pass some other halls belonging to the temple.

Once you’ve made it to your final destination and stopped patting yourself on the back, you’ll be able to appreciate the architecture of the temple — its terraces supported on stilts — and take in the views from the precipice. Whether you’re seeking enlightenment or just a damn good workout, this mountain is a great place to start.

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