Whose default? The Case of The Cedars of Haguro-san

Haguro-san is a mountain in Japan famous for a lot of things; the stone stairway, Japan's thickest thatch roof on Sanjingosaiden, the national treasure Five Story Pagoda, and the expansive cedar forest, for example. Our default Haguro-san is one lined with cedar trees. It's the Haguro-san we know, and it's also partly what we know it for.

Except, many of the cedars there today were planted about 400 years ago, and are now reaching their natural lifespan. As a result, many are rotting from the inside, and some have already rotten and fallen over. One such example is one that fell and crushed Haniyamahime Jinja, one of the numerous Massha shrines that line the stone stairway.

So, the locals are having a debate.

Should we do something to extend the natural life of the cedars? Should be chop them all down? Should we just leave them and let nature take its course?

Yet, Haguro-san has been a location of spiritual worship and training a lot longer than you and I have been around. We're talking centuries, millennia even.

So for the yamabushi of a time gone by, the only cedars that featured on their Haguro-san were Jiji-sugi, the grandfather cedar, and its wife Baba-sugi, and maybe a few other baby-sugis. The Haguro-san we know, and the one they did, are completely different. To try and sustain the Haguro-san we know might just be a bit excessive, is what I guess I'm trying to say.

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