Dewa Sanzan, the “Three Mountains of Dewa,” is a prominent site of Shugendo (nature worship) practices. Visitors may attempt the “Journey of Rebirth,” climbing all three mountains, each representing a different stage in the pilgrimage: Mt. Haguro is the present, Mt. Gassan represents the past, and Mt. Yudono symbolizes the future. For over 1,400 years, people have been undertaking the Journey of Rebirth and completing the accompanying rites along the way.
This Yamabushi-guided tour takes place on Mt. Haguro, the most accessible and shortest of the Dewa Sanzan, with 2,446 stone steps. Along the way, eagle-eyed hikers can spot carvings engraved in the steps. That is, if the stunning view of hundreds of cedar trees, one of which is over 1,000 years old, and stunning five-story pagoda don’t distract. Mt. Haguro has notably received three stars from the Michelin Green Guide, which selects places based on authenticity, beauty, historical significance, and more.
After the hike, there is a stop at a traditional Japanese ryokan inn on the mountain. Here, hikers will refuel with shojin ryori, the plant-based cuisine of Japanese monks. Featuring fresh local vegetables, some of which are even harvested from Dewa Sanzan, the meal is 100% vegetarian and made without causing harm to animals. Far from being austere, this lunch is quite filling, featuring ten dishes in addition to rice, miso soup, and pickles. The mark of a great shojin ryori chef is his goma dofu (sesame tofu), and here it is velvety and smooth, with a lovely nutty flavor.
This is an unforgettable experience for travelers who would like to feel more connected to nature and learn about Japan’s ancient spiritual practices. The journey is sure to leave visitors feeling refreshed, while the shojin ryori meal allows them to not just experience the practices of Shugendo nature worship, but internalize it.
Knowledgable Yamabushi guide
Yamabushi clothing and shoes
Shojin cuisine meal at an inn
Meeting Point and Meeting Time
Meet in front of Ideha Cultural Memorial Hall, Tsuruoka (address: Injuminami-72 Haguromachi Touge, Tsuruoka, Yamagata 997-0211).
Please note that this hike requires a basic level of physical fitness
This experience is available from April 25th to November 3rd