THE MOUNTAIN OF REBIRTH
Grandpa Cedar and the Pagoda
Dewa Sanzan shrine
Mt. Haguro's stairway
Grandpa Cedar and the Pagoda
According to legend—as it is told in the manuscript Haguro's Origins (羽黒山縁起), written in 1644—Mt. Haguro was discovered by a mysterious prince named Nojo Taishi 能除太子 (also known as Prince Hachiko) in 593.
What do we know about Prince Hachiko?
Prince Hachiko 蜂子皇子 was born in 542. His father, the Emperor Sushun 崇峻天皇, was assassinated by a jealous rival by the name of Soga no Umako 蘇我馬子, in 592. Following his cousin's advice, Prince Shotoku Taishi, Hachiko decided to flee the capital in search of a sacred Buddhist mountain where he could pray for despair in the world to end. This mountain was to be found in what was called the "Land of Dewa."
He embarked on his long journey and along the way he met many people who were suffering. Hachiko "absorbed" their pain with his magical powers, delivering them from their illnesses. In doing so, his physical appearance became distorted and atrocious, warping his facial features into something monstrous. But despite his scary features, Prince Hachiko was reputed to be a loving and compassionate man—almost a saint.
Guided by a three-legged crow known to be a messenger from the gods, the prince found Mt. Haguro, designating it a holy place of Buddhism in 593.
The Shinto god worshipped at Mt. Haguro is called Ukanomitama ウカノミタマ, goddess of cereal and crops.
Mt. Haguro is:
MAY - EARLY DECEMBER
IT'S A RELIGIOUS PLACE...
We welcome all kinds of hikers! However, we would like you to remember this is sacred ground. Therefore, please be respectful and considerate of the people around you by remaining quiet and making sure trash ends up in waste bins. Thank you!
COME WITH THE APPROPRIATE GEAR !
Chose function over appearance! In other words, you will need quality footwear (sneakers, hiking boots) in order to ascend the 2,446 stone steps of Haguro's stairway. Leave your high heels or pumps in your luggage for another day—many visitors have suffered ankle injuries while exploring Haguro in the wrong footwear.
Don't forget to bring water with you!
Hiking Mt. Haguro can be really challenging for some persons, especially during summer! Bring cool clothes and lots of water supply before heading for adventure!
Up (normal pace, no pause):
1 hour 10 minutes
We recommend you to take 2 to 3 pauses of 5 to 10 minutes along the way.
Down (normal pace, no pause):
Download the map!
Where to stay in Haguro:
If you’ve missed the bus back to Tsuruoka, or if you simply want to fully enjoy Mt. Haguro's beauty, you’re in luck! Stay in one of the hotels, ryokan, or guesthouses in the area.
Where to Eat in Haguro:
Main Events in Haguro :
Where to rent the white Shiroshozoku (pilgrim clothes):
The shiroshozoku is the white robe that the shugendo pilgrims visiting Dewa Sanzan wear. Traditionally, the shiroshozoku is only worn by the deceased, but pilgrims wear it as a symbol of their "spiritual rebirth.”
Every piece of the shiroshozoku is designed to be useful during the pilgrim's retreat in the mountains. For example, in case of injury, the ropes can be used to stop bleeding; in case of falls, the twist on the forehead protects the head from shock.
Beyond their practical uses, each element has a spiritual meaning, too. For example, the twisted headpiece represents the umbilical cord linking the pilgrim to Mother Nature. The "shime" necklace is meant to attract the Shinto gods just like the shimenawa ropes encircling trees.
You can rent a shiroshozoku outfit when staying in a shukubo lodging, or directly from the Yoseibo Pilgrim Lodge.
Discover the two other sacred mountains of Dewa: