THE MOUNTAIN OF FUTURE
Mount Yudono was not always part of the Dewa Sanzan. For geographical survey reasons, Mt. Yudono replaced Mt. Hayama (which, itself, replaced Mt. Chokai) in the early 17th century. It is said that Mt. Yudono was made a sacred place for Buddhism by Kukai—the founder of Shingon Buddhism himself.
Who is Kukai?
Kukai, also known as Kobo Daishi (774-835), is a Japanese monk who founded the Shingon school of Buddhism. People considered him a Shaman, someone who could grant wishes by reciting spells. In Shingon Buddhism, the Buddha embodies the entire universe and incarnates the Universal Truth; he is called Vairocana (in Japanese: Dainichi-nyorai). In Kukai’s Shingon Buddhism, followers are taught how to "become a Vairocana Buddha" by reciting Vairocana's words. According to Kukai, everybody can become a "Buddha" in their present life. This concept is called Sokushinjobutsu 即身成仏, and is attainable through enlightenment and esoteric training.
Haguro and Yudono—a complicated relationship
When Mt. Haguro converted to Tendai Buddhism in 1642 for political reasons, Mt. Yudono was expected to do the same. But Mt. Yudono refused to substitute Tendai Buddhism for Shingon; to do so would be considered treasonous to Kukai, the mountain's founder. As a result, Mt. Haguro's officials were outraged by Yudono's refusal to abide by their rules and convert to Shingon Buddhism.
Temples on Mt. Yudono, such as Dainichibo and Churenji, subsequently turned the Sokushinjobutsu concept into a concrete practice: live mummification. Out of the 20 sokushinbutsu mummies in Japan, 11 of them were monks who trained on Mt. Yudono. There are 8 mummies in Yamagata Prefecture (4 in Tsuruoka, and 2 in Sakata City). Others can be found in Niigata Prefecture.
LATE APRIL - LATE OCTOBER
DON'T MISS THE BUS!
Get off the bus at Yudonosan Senninzawa 湯殿山仙人沢.
NO BUS FOR THE MOMENT
IT'S A RELIGIOUS PLACE...
We welcome all kinds of hikers! However, we would like you to remember this is a sacred place and that you should be considerate of the people around you, do not be too loud and do not litter. Thank you!
COME WITH THE APPROPRIATE GEAR !
Even if it is hot in Tsuruoka City, at Mt. Yudono it can be very cold! Please bring warm jackets, raincoats, hiking boots and sunglasses with you.