Dewa Sanzan,

 

A "spiritual dive inside nature"

The Three Sacred MountAINs of Dewa

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Mount Haguro

The smallest of the Three Mountains (414m high). Represents the present life. Hosts the Five Storied Pagoda (National Treasure), Dewa Sanzan shrine (Sanjingosaiden), and Grandpa cedar (Jijisugi), a thousand years old cedar tree registered as a Natural National Monument. 2446 stones steps pave the path until the top from Zuishinmon gate. Yamabushi execute their rites here, such as the waterfall purification ritual (taki no shugyo) and the yamabushi consecration (hassakusai).

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Mount Gassan

The highest of the Three Mountains (1984m high). Represents the past and the world of Dead.

Pilgrims climb Mount Gassan to reconnect with their ancestors, who are thought to reside here. Offers a splendid view on Shonai region along the stoned path to the top.

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Mount Yudono

The holiest of the Three Mountains (1504m high). Represents the future.

The ascension of Mt. Yudono bare feet inside its holy hot spring is said to purify from all sins the new self you have uncovered through the pilgrimage of the two other mounts.

No picture is allowed past the red gate. It would provoke the goddess's wrath that resides in the red stone inside the spring.

 

Mount Haguro

414m high

MT. HAGURO'S SPIRITUALITY

Mt. Haguro is the core of Dewa Sanzan's shugendo practice. Shugendo is a mix of Buddhism and Shinto believes. Dewa Sanzan's shugendo puts the nature above human existence. Not only beautiful and powerful, Nature is also the home for spirits. This is the reason why the Yamabushi (shugendo monks) treat her with such respect.

 

Every end of each season, Yamabushi gather and stay in Mt. Haguro to execute their rites. You will spot them wearing their blue and white capes and blowing conk shells.

What is the spirituality of Mt. Haguro?

A Buddhist pagoda, a shinto shrine...

What kind of a place might this be?

Mt. Haguro and Dewa Sanzan in general, are both Buddhist and Shinto, as it was the case centuries ago in many places across Japan, before buddhism was purged from such sites,  after the separation between shinto and Buddhism during Meiji Period (1868-1912).  Dewa Sanzan's double religious identity was lucky enough to survive this "religious purge", and the five-storied pagoda still remains today even though the site has been decreed being only shinto in 19th century.

LEGEND
THE
OF MT. HAGURO

But on top of that, Dewa Sanzan is the womb of another spiritual belief in Northern Japan: Shugendo.

Shugendo is some kind of mix between Buddhist principles and nature adoration found in Shinto religion. Yamabushi (disciples of shugendo doctrine), think nature is omnipotent and vow their existence to her. They respect any form of life and hold non violence ideals. They eat shojin ryori (the buddhist vegan food) to feed themselves without hurting sentient creatures, and learn the concept of uketamo 受けたもう ("I accept"). They accept their condition. They accept the greatness of nature. They accept life as it is.

How to go?

By bus

Departure from Tsuruoka JR station (Tsuruoka ekimae)

What's to do in Haguro

Bus departure time from Tsuruoka JR station (Tsuruoka ekimae)

  • 7:52

  • 9:42

  • 10:42

  • 11:42

  • 12:57

  • 14:32

  • 15:32

  • 17:27

 

For the bottom of the mount (Ideha Museum, Five-Storied Pagoda, Grandpa cedar, the stone stairs climb...):

Get off at Zuishinmon 随神門

For the top of the mount (Sanjingosaiden shrine, the ritual bell, Saikan lodge/restaurant):

Get off at Haguro Sancho 羽黒山頂

EAT

ACTIVITIES

HISTORY

 

Mount Gassan

1984m high

Opened to access from: July 1st to September 15th

Gassan is the highest of the Three Sacred Mountains of Dewa.

 

The trek up to Gassan's peak generally takes 4h to 4½h to complete for beginners. Advanced climbers can expect to reach the top in 3½h.

 

Traditionnally climbed after Mount Haguro and before Mount Yudono, Gassan represents past life, since it is considered to be the home of the Dead's souls. Hence, Gassan is often climbed to show love and respect towards the ancestors.

Halfway to the top of the mountain, there is a "resting lodge" : Busshoikegoya, where are served noodles, mountain food and where one can take a nap or stay before starting off again.

At the top, there is a shrine enclave and a resting lodge : Gassan goya too, where people can stay, have food or just rest.

The climb is tough for beginners. We recommend you to go well equipped (water bottles, trekking shoes, sunscreen, and even climbing rods if you plan to climb on early July, since some snow remains at this period).

How to go?

By bus

Departure from Mt. Haguro's top (Haguro sancho 羽黒山頂)

By car

Cheapest option over 2 persons/trip

Convenient and limitless solution

Bus departure time from Mt Haguro's top parking lot:

  • 8:05    (arrival : 9:15)

  • 14:05    (arrival : 15:15)

   Get off at Gassan Hachigome

月山八合目

Bus operating calendar

Rent a car and access Gassan whatever day of the month it is

Park your car in Mount Gassan's Eighth station (Gassan Hachigome 月山八合目)

Car rental shops in front of the train station, near S-mall and 200m from Shonai Airport (limousine cars available)

 

Mount Yudono

1504m high

Opened to access from: Late April to Early November

Mount Yudono is the last mountain traditionally climbed in the pilgrimage of Dewa Sanzan.

 

In the symbolism of the pilgrimage of the three mountains, Mount Yudono represents future life.

Past the red archgate (in Japanese: torii), no photo is allowed. This is because not far from the torii rests the goddess, inside the big red rock at the center of the holy hotspring. Please remain respectful towards the goddess and do not attempt anything that will disturb her. In exchange of your good behaviour, she will wash your sins away by letting you climb her bare feet in her water.  The ritual costs 500 yens to accomplish. Follow the priests instructions (no Japanese needed).

Back to the torii, have a bowl of nagashi soba (buckwheat noodles that are thrown from the kitchens through pipes, sliding in the mount's cold spring water) in the mount's restaurant or shojin ryori (vegetarian buddhist food) in Sanrojo, a shrine lodging that also proposes meals.

Special Taxi plan

How to go?

By car

Cheapest option over 2 persons/trip

Convenient and limitless solution

No bus for 2020. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Rent a car and access Yudono whatever day of the month it is

Park your car in Mt. Yudono Senninzawa's parking lot (Yudonosan senninzawa 湯殿山千人沢)

Car rental shops in front of the train station, near S-mall and 200m from Shonai Airport (limousine cars available)

We are sorry to announce there will be no bus circulating between Tsuruoka to Mt. Yudono in 2020. However, there is a taxi-service that can be very interesting if you are traveling with more than one person!

Time of departure from Tsuruoka Station: 8:15, 13:20, 15:10

Time of arrival (Yudonosan Sanrôjo) : 9:05, 14:10, 16:00

Time of departure from Yudonosan Sanrôjo: 9:30, 14:40, 16:30

Time of arrival (Tsuruoka Station) : 10:25, 15:35, 17:25

Fees (round-trip): 

4 passengers : 2700 yens/person

3 passengers: 3600 yens/person

2 passengers: 5400 yens/person

1 passenger: 10,800 yens

Cheaper than the regular bus!

!

Climbing both Gassan & Yudono in the same day in hardly possible.

Please plan your trip carefully!

A specialized website about Dewa Sanzan. Find more information and organize your trip to Dewa Sanzan. 

Bilingual shonai region and Tohoku experts will help you plan your trip to Tsuruoka, whether you need to find language support,  make reservations, find activities or just information.

Tsuruoka City,

The Blog

DEGAM Tsuruoka Tourism Bureau (General Incorporated Association)

Address: 3-1 Suehiromachi, MARICA East Building, 2nd floor, Tsuruoka, Yamagata 997-0015, JAPAN

TEL: (+81) 0235-26-1218

E-mail: tsuruoka@degam.jp

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