Bishamon-do is located at a 5 minute-walk from the west exit of Urasa Station. Go along the way, pass in front of the post office and the approach is next to the public toilet.
It has over 1200 years of history. It is said that a shogun visited this place on the way to the north and founded this temple.
At the top of the paved stairs, there is a wooden gate which imitates the gate of Nikko Toshogu shrine. You can see a pair of Deva kings and carvings of imaginary animals such as tapirs, giraffes and so on. Legend says that if a King has done good work, a giraffe will come and bring him good luck.
On the ceiling there are 100’s of years old carved and painted dragons glaring in eight directions to keep evil away.
After you pass under the gate, you should look behind, then you can see Mt.Hakkai framed by the gate.
On both sides of the roofed walkway there are wooden candles.
After you visit the fountain, you can go into the temple.
The image of Bishamon, a Buddhist deity, is made of a camellia tree which is believed to be sacred.
There are big Zelkova trees (a genus of six species of deciduous trees in the elm family) in the garden. You can touch one of them.
You can also hike up the mountain behind.
‘Bishamon-ten’ means ‘Deva of the north and treasures.’ A deity who rules over the northern quadrant of the world.
On March 3rd the naked man festival is held. Young men push each other to get the blessing. It makes them hot so they become naked.
This is usually a quiet place but worth a visit.
Tenchijin gaidono kai 天地人ガイドの会, the information centre on Highway 17, Shimohitoichi (above, on the right hand side when driving from Yuzawa), can organise tours in English to Bishamondo, Untoan and Bokushi Street. To hire an English speaking guide is 1000 yen per hour or else 2000 yen per hour. (firstname.lastname@example.org – it will take a few days to organise as they will forward emails in English to the guides). The information centre is located inside the museum behind the souvenir and local food shop called Yukiakari. The color of the building is light blue. There is a cafe and information center there.
Yuzawa Information Centre, Yukiguni kankoken (snow-country.jp) also organises tours in English and it said the fee is 2000 yen per hour. Tomi is one of the tour guides.