In early May, when the huge old wisteria at Ju-un Temple is in full bloom, the Fuji (wisteria) Festival is held on temple grounds. Participants can sample rice cakes and watch a tea ceremony beneath the fragrant vines. May is also the month for the Miyuki (or Mikoshi Gyoko) procession at Daisen Temple, a traditional Buddhist ceremony said to date back to the Heian era (794-1185). The temple’s elaborate portable shrines are paraded through the streets on the shoulders of men dressed all in white. Children in traditional attire and adults dressed as priest-warriors join the parade as well.
Summer on Mt Daisen officially begins on the first weekend in June, when priests from Daisen Shrine preside over rituals to pray for an accident-free mountain climbing season. The fire ceremony that takes place on this weekend is the shrine’s central summer event. In the evening, about 2,000 participants kindle torches in a sacred fire at the shrine, then descend the pilgrimage road through the woods, torches a blazing wave of fire (in the past the procession went in reverse, with deeply religious participants carrying their torches up the mountainside to the shrine). A daytime ceremony is also held at the mountain summit.
When the forests turn their fall colors in late October or early November, the town of Daisen holds an Autumn Colors Festival. Events includes a fire ceremony at Daisen Temple in which priests carry sacred lanterns, a photography contest, and in some years the Daisen Warrior Priest Drum Performance.
On the 23rd of December, a ceremony is held to mark the opening of the ski season. Along with a ritual to pray for a safe ski season, there are ski demonstrations, mochi (rice cake)-making events, and free lift passes for all participants.
16 competition categories mean everyone can join in this mid-May run along the Nawa Sakura Course
Participants come from all over Japan to join in this event held each July at the Gouenzan Ski grounds, 750 meters above sea level.
This annual October race offers two routes along the Daisen foothills: a 15-kilometer beginner’s course and a more challenging 30-kilometer hill course. After you’ve worked up an appetite cycling, join the crowd for BBQ beef from a local ranch and a free dip in the Nakayama Hot Spring.
Every hear about 20 teams participate in this festival on the Daisen ski slopes. Events include races, synchronized skiing, and performances.
This challenging triathlon starts with a 6km kayak race in the Sea of Japan, continues with a 23.5 km bike ride through the rich Daisen foothills, and finishes with a 4.5 km hike to the peak of the mountain. Hosted by outdoor-equipment company Mont-Bell, the race got started several years ago as a way to take advantage of Daisen’s unique beach-to-summit landscape. It’s now spread to several other parts of Japan and looks set to become an annual tradition in Daisen. The event is held in May, with registration from February 5 through March 10. Entry fees are 15,000 yen for individual participants and 9,000 yen if you’re part of a group. See www.seatosummit.jp for details.