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Aru was quite an isolated settlement, lying in a remote part of the northwestern coast of Tsukishima, huddled in the foothills of the Ikuyu Mountains. It was a difficult journey to reach Aru, as one had to traverse some of the most rugged passes of the mountains.
Aru began as a simple shrine to Bishamon, and although only a few monks resided on the site, pilgrims still made the long and difficult journey through the Ikuyu Mountains to visit it. Since there were no facilities, they simply endured the elements during their stay. Eventually, owing to the number of pilgrims falling victim to the tough journey, buildings were erected on the site to allow them to stay in greater comfort.
Through a combination of pilgrims setting up permanent residence and people setting up stalls to make a profit providing services to the pilgrims, the settlement began to grow. Over a few decades, a town existed on the site of the shrine, but since it had no daimyo or official government, it was not recognized as such. The monks used their skills to protect the population from surrounding threats such as bandit invasions.
Standing atop a high hill, the Shining Temple of Bishamon dominated the town. A gate stood at the entrance of the temple, guarded by massive lions carved of ebony with eyes of gold and teeth of crystal. Climbing the hill was a 3000-step stairway, flanked by rows of wooden pillars, dyed red and topped by ivory spires, leading up to the main temple building. In front of the temple stood a soaring apple tree—the fruit was said to bestow immortality on the deserving, but death to the wicked, but only Bishamon could pick them. Hanging from a branch of the tree was brass that was tolled every hour in homage to Bishamon, the Wide Hearing.
Within the temple sat cross-legged a colossal idol of Bishamon covered in gold. Before it were long rows of small brass statues of the most important priests of the faith of the last thousand years, numbering 3,333 in all. The strange statues depicted them with multiple heads and dozens of arms, to symbolize their good deeds.
The Shining Temple of Bishamon was the undoubted center of the faith for many Wanese, especially commoners, peasants, and others of the lower classes (nobles and upper classes preferred the Great Temple of Bishamon in Kurahito). Thus, pilgrims from across the country made the perilous journey over the islands and through the mountains to Aru to worship. They were rewarded with the amazing site of the Shining Temple.
Much of Aru's meager industry was devoted to the comfort and service of pilgrims. There were frequent inns and stables to house them, and many merchants hawking all manner of religious wares and holy texts. Peddlers in the street sold ceramic apples in imitation of the sacred apples, and necklaces comprising 3,333 brass beads after the statues. Wealthy or footsore pilgrims could hire a palanquin to carry them up the 3000 steps.
A special ceremony in Aru involved believers making an individual prayer of thanks to each and every one of the 3,333 priest statues in the Shining Temple. True faithful were required to do this each year.
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- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 160. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Nigel Findley (1990). Ninja Wars. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-8803-8895-1.
- ↑ Nigel Findley (1990). Ninja Wars. (TSR, Inc), p. 4. ISBN 0-8803-8895-1.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 162. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.