The Site of Reiho Shrine
Classification: National historical site
Date of registration: July 23, 2009
Reiho Shrine was built on Mount Reiho (“spiritual ridge” in Japanese), 743 meters above sea level, to the northwest of Mount Chōkai. It is unknown when the first shrine was built, but even before the erection of any shrine, Mount Reiho was included in the pilgrimage route that ran from Kotaki-guchi, Kimpo Shrine, the White Bridge of Naso, and Ogami Matsu to Mount Reiho, then on to Hokodate, Torino Umi, and finally to Omonoimi Shrine at the summit of Mount Chōkai.
Many parts of the abolished shrine remain, such as stone lanterns at the entrance, base stones and stone walls (against wind and snow) of the main building, and the 33rd stone sculpture of Guanyin Buddha (the goal point for the pilgrimage of 33 Guanyin Buddha statues in the region). It is particularly interesting to find here quite a few memorial tablets for the deceased, which seem to reflect the Tohoku culture of Mori-kuyo, or the collective service for the dead in the forest (the Japanese word “mori” may mean both the forest and the spirit of the deceased).
Though the shrine building is now lost, it was certainly there until recently, since The List of Pilgrims in 1923 notes many were visiting Reiho Shrine in that year and The History of Mount Chōkai Reiho Shrine reports that “[Reiho Shrine was] damaged by a storm in 1958 and reconstruction is now in preparation.”
The record of the priesthood of the shrine in early modern times (i.e., the Edo era) is missing, but as the priest of Kimpo Shrine cumulated the priesthood of Reiho Shrine in modern times (since the late nineteenth century), it was most probably under the control of Ryuzan temple (which controlled the shrines and temples in the area, including Kimpo Shrine). After the Second World War, Reiho Shrine was moved to the premises of Ryuzan temple, which itself was later abolished. In the garden of the Endo family, where Ryuzan temple once stood, we can still find a stone monument to Reiho Shrine.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology
(Nikaho City responsible for its maintenance.)
Plate placed in October 2012 by Nikaho City’s Board of Education