Visit all the three mountains of the Dewa Sanzan in a single trip! (2 nights, 3 days)

Exploring the entire Dewa Sanzan mountain range can be a bit challenging due to the varying hikeability of the mountains throughout the year and limited transportation options. However, there is indeed a way to conquer all three mountains in one trip to Tsuruoka! Let us guide you on how to achieve this using the city’s available public transportation services in a 2 nights 3 days trip. Please note this whole trip can only be accomplished during the official Mt. Gassan hiking season (July 1st to September 15th)


D1 : Arriving to Tsuruoka and visiting Mt. Haguro

The Dewa Sanzan Shrine (also called “Sanjingosaiden”) at the top of Mt. Haguro

Tsuruoka Station

Tsuruoka Station is the most convenient spot to plan all your transportations to Tsuruoka City’s several places of interests (S-MALL bus center, a few minutes away from the station, is also a good place to wait for the bus as it is located near the Daiichi Hotel and inside the S-Mall shopping mall). Tsuruoka Station is part of the JR network, so you can use your JR pass to reach Tsuruoka. Here are some tips to keep in mind before embarking on your journey to the Dewa Sanzan:

  1. Aim to arrive at Tsuruoka Station before 1:00 PM. If you’re coming from Tokyo, catch the Joetsu Shinkansen Toki 311 departing from Tokyo Station at 9:12 AM. This will get you to Niigata Station in approximately 90 minutes (arrival time: 10:41 AM), allowing for a smooth transfer to Tsuruoka Station via the Limited Inaho Express No. 7 departing at 10:48 AM. You’ll reach Tsuruoka in about 1 hour and 50 minutes (arrival time: 12:42 PM). Consider having lunch at a nearby restaurant or grabbing a bento from the convenience store next to the station.
  2. Catch the bus to Mt. Haguro at 12:58 PM or 2:33 PM from Tsuruoka Station’s bus stop #2 (Japanese name: 鶴岡駅前バス停2番). Get off the bus at Hagurozuishinmon after a 36-minute ride.

Useful links:

Japan Railway East : The timetables of “Joetsu Shinkansen” and “Limited Inaho Express” change every month, so please search from the links below.(Japanese, please use automatic translation):

Shonai Kotsu – Bus to Mt. Haguro’s timetable :

Haguro Zuishinmon

To start your journey to the Dewa Sanzan sacred mountain, the first mountain you should aim for is Mt. Haguro. In order to climb the “Mountain of Present”, you need to enter the “Zuishinmon gate”. This red gate used to be a “Niomon” (a Buddhist gate that enshrines the Buddhist gods “Nio”), but changed its name to Zuishinmon after Mt. Haguro was forcefully converted to Shintoism in the 19th century. You will find the Tenchikon-jinja shrine on its right.

“Hagurozuishinmon” Bus stop. Toilets inside the waiting area.

Here is what we recommend you to do for the afternoon:

  1. Climb Mt. Haguro (1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours, according to your hiking speed)
  2. Have tea & mochi at the Ninosaka Chaya Teahouse halfway to the top.
  3. Visit the top of the mountain, hear a prayer at the Dewa Sanzan shrine (regularly performed until 4pm)
  4. Stay at a shukubo lodge for the night, at the top (Saikan) or by going back to the foot of the mountain. You can take the bus from the top (bus stop name: Haguro Sancho) back to the bottom (Haguro Zuishinmon or other bus stops) if you do not wish to climb the stairs down. (bus ride: 660 yen per person)

Useful links:

Shonai Kotsu – Bus to Mt. Haguro’s timetable :

Haguro Sancho


D2 : The big hike: Mt. Gassan & Mt. Yudono

The Busshoike Goya, a lodge halfway to the top of Mt. Gassan

Haguro Sancho

Haguro Sancho 羽黒山頂 will be your transfer point to take the bus to Mt. Gassan. We suggest you take the earliest bus possible to Mt. Gassan so you can do the hike to Mt. Yudono when there is still daylight.

  1. Aim to depart from Haguro Sancho before 8am.
  2. Catch the bus to Gassan Hachigome at 7:05am or 8:05 am. Get off the bus at Gassan Hachigome 月山八合目 after a 55 minute ride.

Useful links:
Shonai Kotsu – Bus to Mt. Haguro & Gassan’s timetable :

Gassan Hachigome

Gassan Hachigome 月山八合目 (“Gassan’s Eighth Station”) is the name given to the spot where most hikers start their hike to the top of Mt. Gassan. It takes 2 hours and half to reach the top for beginner hikers without a pause (please note that the time required to hike depends greatly on your hiking pace, the purpose of your hike: photography = +40 min. to +1 hour, leisure = +20 min., sports = -30min., etc.).

Equipment needed-Good hiking shoes
-Good sunproof hat & sunglasses
-Sunscreen or long-sleeved top
-Water -Hiking sticks
-A waterproof windbreaker vest (in case of rain)
-Snacks & food
-Light crampons (for hikers in early-mid July; as there is some snow remaining on some parts of the trail)
-(Recommended) Insect repellent
-(Recommende) Bear bell
  1. Aim to start your hike at around 9am
  2. Visit the Midagahara marshes and the Midahara shrine
  3. Visit the Busshoike Goya Lodge 佛生池小屋 (please buy food or a souvenir if you wish to rest inside the place)
  4. Hike to the top, visit the Gassan shrine 月山神社 (500 yen per person)
Busshoike Goya’s lodge. It takes roughly 1 hour 10 minutes to reach for beginner hikers (no pause)

Useful links:

Shonai Kotsu – Bus to Mt. Haguro & Gassan’s timetable :

Komoot – Hiking map to Mt. Gassan

Gassan Chojo Goya

Gassan Chojo Goya (the furthest building in the background seen from the Gassan Shrine)
  1. Have lunch at Gassan Chojo Goya 月山頂上小屋 (might be out of service according to the water-availability situation or special schedules)
  2. Follow the hiking trail to Mt. Yudono. From there, it is a 3 hours and half+ hiking course that is awaiting you. Please count at least 4 hours of hiking if you are a novice, 5 hours if you wish to take your time/photos. The last part of the trail is dangerous (metal ladders stuck in the rock, very slippery in case of rain).


Mt. Yudono’s shrine (photos & videos prohibited)
  • Visit the Yudonosan-jinja shrine (500 yen/person). You need to take off your shoes in the dedicated space and take part in a purification prayer as instructed by the priest (you will need to rub your body with a little white piece of paper called “hitogata”, and release it in the nearby water stream to cleanse you from your defilements; then you are expected to listen to a prayer, and climb Mt. Yudono’s holy rock in the hot water).
  • Go to the small parking lot behind the shrine. You will find a souvenir shop and a shuttle-bus stop that will bring you to Yudonosan Senninzawa. Wait for the bus (200 yen/person, 1-way only). The last bus departs at around 4:30pm. Please keep this in mind when planning your trip. Otherwise you will have to walk 40 min. on foot to get to the next step.

Useful links:

Shonai Kotsu – Shuttle-bus to Senninzawa (Japanese) 湯殿山神社本宮参拝バス

Yudonosan Senninzawa & Yudonosan Sanrojo

Yudonosan Senninzawa is the big place at the foot of the mountain with a giant red torii gate in the middle. You will find a Buddhist graveyard on the right of the torii (from the point of view of the photo above), the Yudonosan Sanrojo pilgrim lodge on the left, and the Yudonosan Resthouse at the bottom of Yudonosan Sanrojo.

  • Stay at Yudonosan Sanrojo (prior booking mandatory)
Yudonosan Sanrojo’s pilgrim lodge

Useful links:

Shoko Travel – Yudonosan Sanrojo’s English Website (reservations & info)