Hello dear travelers!
You may already know that, but there are four sokushinbutsu mummies just in Tsuruoka (the highest number of sokushinbutsu concentrated in the same city in Japan!), and with the 2 ones in Kaikôji in Sakata, that gives us a total of 6 mummies just right next to Mt. Yudono.
Considering there are 17 mummies in the whole Japan, within which 6 are in Shonai Region, and 5 others in Yamagata Prefecture and Niigata Prefectures combined, it gives us a total of 11 mummies in a 150km radius perimeter around Mt. Yudono, strange coincidence, is it not?
Well, as you may already guess, this is not really a coincidence. Shingon Buddhism around Mt. Yudono is strongly linked to the appearance of the sokushinbutsu phenomenon in Japan. We will talk about it a little bit later.
The four sokushinbutsu mummies are located in:
-Nangakuji Temple 南岳寺 (Tetsuryûkai-shônin 鉄竜海上人) : This temple is located 3.5km away from Tsuruoka Station: it is easily reachable by walk, or bicycle
Entry: 400 ￥╱adult and teenager, 300 ￥╱child <11 y.o
Open hours: 8:30 to 16:30
Closed on: January 2nd, May 13th, August 14th
-Honmyôji Temple 本明寺 (Honmyokai-shônin 本明海上人) : This temple is one of the most difficult to reach. Located in a remote forest, you need to make a prior call to the monks in charge prior to your visit (phone number: +81235-53-2269). The place is not accessible by bus. You need to go by car or walk 1h30min from Churenji to there.
Open hours: On reservation only
-Chûrenji Temple 注連寺 (Tetsumonkai-shônin 鉄門海上人) : This temple's sokushinbutsu is one of the most famous. Its story has been told in a manga: Tetsumonkai Jinden 鉄門海人伝 and told on TV several times. It is located in Oami Village.
Entry: Entry: 500 ￥╱adult, 400￥/ child <15 y.o, 300 ￥╱child <11 y.o
Open hours: 09:00 to 17:00 from May to October
10:00 to 16:00 from November to April
-Dainichibô Temple 大日坊 (Shin'nyokai-shônin 真如海上人) : This temple's sokushinbutsu is very famous too for appearing at television several times. The temple is located in Oami village.
Entry: 500 ￥╱adult, 400￥/ child <15 y.o, 300 ￥╱child <11 y.o
Open hours: 08:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
Closed on: No closed day
Good news! You can now go to Oami Village (Dainichibo & Churenji temples) by bus!
Oami Village, in Asahi Area (still in Tsuruoka City), is accessible by a small bus (more like a car actually) operated by the city. It is a charming little village nested between mountains and rice fields. It is so small there is no convenience store, no shop, no restaurants around. Hence, if you plan to head to Oami, make sure you have water, food or whatever you need with you before departure.
The little bus only operates during weekdays. Another bus goes to Oami on weekend days but only during a limited period of time during summer. To download the timetables in .pdf format, please go to the Access Page.
To sum up:
You can go see Nangakuji Temple's sokushinbutsu easily from Tsuruoka Station.
You can go see Churenji Temple and Dainichibo Temple's mummies by bus, but you'll need to walk until Honmyôji or even rent a car to go there.