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Yura Onsen, The Legend of Its Sacred Beach

Yura Coast and its legendary sunset on Hakusanjima's islet

Yura Coast is not only a beautiful beach where to admire one of the 100 most beautiful sunsets in Japan ( 日本の夕陽百選 ), it is also narrowly linked to the history of the Three Sacred Mountains of Dewa, Dewa Sanzan.

Dewa Sanzan has been founded by Prince Hachiko 蜂子皇子 (562-641), who discovered the mountains by chance as he was fleeing from the murderers of his father, Emperor Sushun 崇峻天皇. Hachiko, who was fearing for his life, asked his cousin Shôtoku Taishi 聖徳太子 where he could go to finally find peace. Shôtoku Taishi told him he heard that in a land called Dewa 出羽 (currently Shônai Region), people talked about a place where Buddhas could be seen.

Hachiko decided to go there to live a virtuous life and spread good around him. He departed from the port of Yura in Kyôto by boat. After a long trip, he arrived at the coasts of Shônai, in a place that will later become Yura Beach (Hachiko will give the name of the port he departed from to the place he discovered). But, as he was about to land on the beach, he heard angelic chants coming from a cave on his right. He peeked inside the cave and could see 8 beautiful young girls dancing and singing gracefully. But as soon as he tried to get his ship closer, the ladies got afraid and hid themselves behind a rock. Intrigued, Hachiko tried to get his ship closher, but the waves were too violent and were threatening to destroy his ship.

Two ladies were worried of his fate. To avoid his ship being wrecked by the waves, Ehime 恵姫 and Miô 美凰 climbed on a rock and showed him the way to go through the waves. But the other ladies were still afraid about the scary-looking stranger.

He had such a huge face, protruding eyes and a large thin mouth, facial traits they had never seen before. Hachiko explained Ehime he was the emperor's son, that he was looking for a place where he could devote his entire life to spreading the good around him. The ladies were moved by his words, and agreed to help him. Ehime told him that not far from here, there was a mountain where one could find mountain gods and told him the way. After landing, he decided to undertake a training before heading to the mountain. The 8 ladies didn't want to bother him but still wanted to support him in his quest. Every day, they would put a basket full of shellfish, fish and sea weeds to make him retrieve his energy lost during his long trip.

After a while, Hachiko decided to head for the sacred mountain Ehime told him about.

That mountain was Mt. Haguro.

It is safe to safe that without Hachiko landing on Yura's beach, and without the 8 young ladies to guide him, Mt. Haguro would never have been discovered.

This legend also shows how generous the people of Yura Coast are, and how important seafood is in Dewa Sanzan's spirituality: it is the symbol of strength and generosity.

Yura Onsen is one of the 4 main hot spring villages in Tsuruoka. The most emblematic hotspring in Yura is Yaotome 八乙女 which translates literally to: "eight young ladies".

Click here to book a room in Yaotome on booking.com

How to go

By car

Go to Yura Beach

By bus

Tsuruoka Station Bus stop n°1 : Bus bound for Yura Onsen/ Atsumi Onsen (get off at Yura Onsen)

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

Spoken languages:

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