Power spots: Japan’s latest spiritual craze

September 2nd, 2010 by Felicity Hughes

Mount Fuji, the mother of power spots

Can you feel it? Mount Fuji, the mother of power spots for Yama Girls

Want to make a bit of money, improve your health or win big at pachinko? Then invest in a copy of comedian/fortune teller Shimada Shuhei’s new book: “The Definitive Countrywide Guide to Lucky Power Spots.” Being published Sept. 9 the book will tell you where to go in Japan to collect the spiritual energy necessary to achieve life’s more elusive goals. Shuhei’s book is the latest in a recent glut of publications on the power spot topic. A quick look at Amazon Japan reveals that this year has seen no less than 32 new books on the subject go into print.

The book that’s received the highest user rating so far is “This Power Spot is Amazing,” by guru Teruo Wakatsuki Yuu. To write the book, this spiritual master travelled from Hokkaido to Okinawa and carefully selected 79 energy spots. Wakatsuki Yuu’s other works include a book called “Become a Spiritual Leader,” a job he is evidently believes himself to be rather skilled at; his 8-day spiritual workshops cost a whopping ¥143,850 (around $1,710).

It’s unclear exactly what spiritual philosophy people like Shuhei and Wakatsuki Yuu are spouting, but that reflects the fuzzy logic of the movement itself. The belief that power spots are places where people can go to collect mystical energy is rooted in a pick ‘n’ mix of Eastern and Western Mysticism: Feng Shui, Qigong and Shinto, with a bit of murky spiritualism thrown in.

It all started back in the ‘90s when a self -proclaimed psychic named Kiyota Masuaki, who does tricks like spoon bending and takes psychic photographs, coined the word “power spot” to mean a place where the earth’s energy can be collected.

In 2000 public interest in spiritualism and feng shui increased, seeing the start of a boom in people going on pilgrimage to Shinto temples. Self styled spiritual councellers like Hiroyuki Ehara propagated the notion that you could receive spiritual power from visiting these places. The publishing boom began when around the end of 2009 the topic of power spots started to be widely discussed on TV.

Many companies are now seeing business opportunities in the power-spot movement as a growing number of young women interested in hiking (so-called Yama Girls) trek out to these locations. Hotel Nikko in Nara is running a Yama Girls Plan: the hotel, tucked between beautiful mountain scenery, is surrounded by power spots and the plan includes hiking treks to the spots as well as a night’s accommodation.

Power spots are usually out in the countryside in a mountain or shrine and some of Japan’s most famous power spots are: Mount Fuji; Mount Osore in Aomori; Togakushi shrine in Nagano; and Meiji Shrine, Tokyo. Even if you don’t live in Japan you can visit a power spot. Locations around the world include Machu Pichu, Hawaii, Lourdes and the Pyramids of Egypt.

So what are you waiting for? Get trekking and collect spiritual points and prizes along the way!

Photo credit: Ivan Walsh

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