In the Mountain Yoshino, many cherry trees have been planted since the Heian period. Most of them are of the variety Shiro-yama-zakura. The number of the cherry trees are said to be about 30,000. The cherry trees have been believed to be the tree of the deity Zao-gongen.
Long time ago Enno-ozune, who is said to be the founder of Shugendō (one of the Buddhist religion centered on an ascetic, mountain-dwelling practice), saw the deity Kongō-Zaō-Gongen after a long practice. He carved the deity out of a cherry treec It became customary ever since to donate young cherry trees to the Temple Kinpusen-ji when one makes prayers.
The Mountain Yoshino is also the place where Emperor Godaigo set up the South Dynasty in the Period of North and South Dynasties. The three standing statues of Zaō-Gongen, which we had a chance to see in the occasion of special exhibition in 2013, were impressive.
|"Shiro-yamazakura", Cerasus jamasakura, a variety of Cherry tree|
|"Kinpusen-ji" in the white circle|
|The "Hondō", Main Hall of Kinpusenji,|
which enshrines the tree statues of Zaō-gongen, "Ao-fudō"