Hearing the Silent Voice of the Bedrock
Since ancient times, people in Japan have felt a profound veneration for the bedrock of their land. Quarried and mined, this rock has been skillfully used to create the stone walls of castles and buildings. It is also the base material for statues carved as an expression of religious faith. And in some places, there is a strong belief in the spiritual power of those forms in stone. On this episode of Journeys in Japan, we travel to 4 sites — in Okayama, Tochigi, Oita and Aomori Prefectures — to discover this deep, mysterious relationship.

Kitagi Island (Okayama Pref.)

This island in the Seto Inland Sea is known for the high quality granite that has been used in the construction of numerous buildings.

Oya History Museum (Tochigi Pref.)

Formerly used as a stone mine, this massive underground site is now open to the public.

Kawakura Sainokawara Jizoson (Aomori Pref.)

Long a sacred site for a popular folk religion, this site holds 2,000 statues of Jizo bodhisattva brought as offerings. The annual festival draws throngs of worshippers.


To reach Kitagi Island, it takes about 40 minutes by ferry from Kasaoka Port in Okayama. The Oya History Museum is about 30 minutes by bus from Utsunomiya Station. To reach Kawakura Sainokawara Jizoson, you take a train to Kanagi Station on the Tsugaru Line in Aomori. From there it takes about 30 minutes on foot.