If you are looking for a unique activity to reconnect you with nature and you wouldn’t mind a bit of a hike and some shinrin-yoku “forest-bathing,” book this experience in Yamagata.
Our yamabushi (mountain ascetic) guide, Masato Kono, was born and raised at the base of Mt. Kinbo and has had decades of training on Mt. Kinbo and the Dewasanzan mountains in Yamagata Prefecture. He will be able to explain the ascetic practices of Shugendo (a type of ancient folk religion that shares similarities with Buddhism, Shintoism, and Taoism) through a Japanese-English interpreter. Shugendo places emphasis on the appreciation of nature; during this hike up Mt. Kinbo, you will be able to connect with the land, a luxury in our overwhelmingly technology-saturated world.
First, Masato will help you put on the “shirosozoku” yamabushi garb and provide a brief itinerary for the day. Along the trek to Kinbo Shrine, you will take part in a sequence of rituals and customs handed down from ancient times. Follow your guide’s instructions, chanting or remaining in silence with a bowed head at appropriate times. Appreciate the rustling of leaves and other sounds of nature as you bask in the all-embracing peace that reigns over the deep green woodland. You can sneak in a quick snapshot while chanting, but please be respectful and discreet as you take photographs.
Along the way, Masato will teach you about yamabushi’s philosophy and the religious ideals of Shugendo. Being an ascetic himself, he will share his perspective and likely some personal stories as well, leaving time for questions and chatting.
Upon reaching Kinbo Shrine, you will undergo a series of blessings to purify yourself before venturing along a hidden trail that leads to a small waterfall. You will feel the true spirit of the yamabushi lifestyle, nourishing yourself with some handy and humble onigiri rice balls. Then, we will return down the mountain together to the Awashima Shrine.
A English speaking yamabushi monk as a guide
Guided hike on Mt. Kinbo
Any other food of beverages
Meeting Point and Meeting Time
Awashima Shrine is at the base of Mt. Kinbo
Please be reminded to be respectful of customs and practices.
This tour is predominantly outdoors, so please dress accordingly for the weather and wear comfortable shoes or boots.
Due to the large amount of walking, pregnant women and people with serious health conditions should not undertake this tour.
Note that the shirosozoku might not be able during the winter, due to the cold weather.