What is Dewa Sanzan?
Dewa Sanzan 出羽三山 is the group name given to the "Three Sacred Mountains of Dewa" that are Mt. Haguro, Mt. Gassan, and Mt. Yudono. It has been a pilgrimage site for the practitioners of a religion called Shugendo for more than 1400 years. Shugendo 修験道 (in Japanese: "the Way of the Harsh Training"), derived from Esoteric Buddhism practices, includes principles from the Shinto religion and Taoism; it is strongly linked to Japan's original spirituality that revolves around mountain worshipping. The practitioners of Shugendo are called Yamabushi 山伏 ("those who retreat in the mountains").
The Dewa Sanzan is one of the Three Main Sites of Shugendo in Japan (日本三大修験道); it is said to have been made a sacred place by the legendary Prince Hachiko in 593. On top of being the core of the mountain worshipping religious practices in the Tohoku region, the religious tensions between Mt. Yudono and Mt. Haguro led to the emergence of the Sokushinbutsu mummies phenomenon in the Shingon Buddhist temples of Mt. Yudono. The separation between Shinto and Buddhism, ordered by the Meiji Government in 1868, led to multiple transformations inside Dewa Sanzan's shugendo practice and its architecture.
Despite those transformations, Dewa Sanzan's practice of Shugendo has been ongoing for 1400 years without stopping. Even today, you can attend Yamabushi rites, see real Yamabushi priests, and exchange with them.
Despite being the smallest of the three mountains, Haguro boasts the Five-Storied Pagoda, a National Treasure, the long stairway of 2446 stone steps, and the Dewa Sanzan Shrine
The legendary mountain that is said to have been opened by Prince Hachiko. Come see its National Treasure: the Five-Storied Pagoda and much more!
Japan Heritage Brochure
The three sacred mountains of Dewa
Dewa Sanzan tours
Yamabushi guided tours
Shojin Ryori Class with Chef Ito
Spiritual hike in Mt. yudono
The Journey of Rebirth:
Yamabushi monks of the Dewa Sanzan accomplish the three sacred mountains' pilgrimage to get reborn in a new "self".
They consider nature to be a "mother" and forests to be the maternal womb that allows pilgrims to experience a wiser, more awakened life.
You can accomplish the journey of rebirth alone, by hiking in the mountains or accompanied by a Yamabushi monk from the Dewa Sanzan shrine.