Osorezan - Mount Fear

Osorezan is located on the Shimokita Peninsula in Aomori, the northernmost location on Japan's main island of Honshu. The name literally translates to Fear Mountain and according to the local housewives that I drink tea with every Tuesday afternoon, is a place where local souls gather. The atmosphere surround the area certainly changed after passing through the green forests and mountains as we descended into the caldera - the smell of sulfur from the hydrothermal vents that cover the rocky surface of the area fill the air. We stopped and took a look at edge of Lake Usoriyama. The turquoise sulfuric waters of the crater lake radiated in the sun, with the water still very clear enough for us to see the floor below that was dyed in a neon yellow coat.

Bodaiji, the Buddhist temple that was built here expands over the rocky shores of the crater lake. Jizo statues, believed to assist travelers, women and children trapped in hell are placed throughout the grounds. The rocky pathways at Bodaiji are covered in plastic pinwheels, toys and food offerings, perhaps from unfortunate parents who came to Osorezan after losing their children. As we walked through the trail, the bright red pinwheels always continued to spin at various speeds without ever feeling like the wind in the crater was blowing.

Visitors offer coins near the hydrothermal vents that litter the rocky grounds of Osorezan. Many of the coins have been melted away after being exposed to the gases.