The Kunisaki Peninsula: Mystical Festivals in a Spiritual Land *RERUN
The Kunisaki Peninsula is located in the northeast corner of Kyushu, one of Japan's 4 main islands. The round peninsula sticking out into the sea is volcanic. There is very little rain and the mountains are rocky, meaning rainwater soon runs off. Strong faith supports the local people who live in this dry, difficult environment. We visit the Kunisaki Peninsula where unique local rites of prayer have survived down the ages.

Peaks of Deities, Mountains of the Buddha

The Kunisaki Peninsula is covered by craggy peaks of bare rock. The rocky mountains, which appear to threaten and drive people away, are said to be a sacred home of the gods. Stepping into the mountains, visitors are met with the stone staircase that seems almost endless. Legend has it that it was built by a demon in just one night. For many pilgrims, the climb is worth the struggle. A huge statue of the Buddha is carved into a rock face. It is said to be the work of monks in training more than 800 years ago.

Mysterious Masks

The Kunisaki Peninsula remains home to a number of unusual festivals. Looking at the peninsula from above, that reason becomes clear. Long mountain ridges separate the villages. The district of Kushiku is home to around 240 people. Kushiku is known for the Kebesu Festival. The Kebesu is a fearsome creature who steals fire, which is essential to the lives of villagers. Is the Kebesu a god or a demon? The mysterious festival remains an important part of local life.

Seeds Sown by the Gods

The first rice fields in these narrow mountain valleys were established as part of a shrine's manor. The rice-growing region of Tashibu Osaki is home to around 100 people. Every year, the local farmers pray to Hachiman for rain as they maintain their fields. The rice fields of this region were planted in the traditional way, divided into small plots of irregular shapes and sizes. Hopefully the rice can withstand the sunshine and grow up tall and strong.