Source: Gaijin Pot
If I fall from here, I’m as good as dead. I crept along the razor’s edge, my back pressed tightly against the wall as fresh mountain air kissed my cheeks. The view from 1,500 feet above a gorge of orange trees dotting the mountain below was breathtaking. But with my heart jumping repeatedly into my throat, I could hardly appreciate the scenery at Japan’s “most dangerous national treasure”—Nageiredo in Tottori Prefecture.
Nageiredo itself isn’t dangerous, it’s the climb up Mount Mitoku to reach this precariously-perched temple that’ll have your heart racing. While it may seem like an egregious title, one misstep on the trail and you’re done for. Factor in the thin straw sandals strapped to your feet and you’ve got a recipe for potential disaster—one that has attracted adventurous travelers from far and wide for decades.
Life is boring without a bit of danger, so on I climbed, forward I leapt, and upwards I crawled through the valley.
The mystical history of Nageiredo
For over 1,300 years, monks of the Tendai Buddhist sect have made the sacred pilgrimage through Mount Mitoku to reach Nageiredo.
As the legend goes, Buddhist monk En no Gyoja used magic to cast Nageiredo into the side of the mountain back in the Heian period (794-1185). It’s been an object of worship ever since, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a strange sight, this wooden building lodged into the edge of a cliff, like something of fantastical ancient mythology.