A trek above the clouds on the Mountain of the Moon
In the western part of Yamagata Prefecture there is the Dewa Sanzan, the Three Sacred Mountains of Dewa, a group of mountains composed of Mt. Gassan, Mt. Haguro and Mt. Yudono. The highest of the three mountains is Mt. Gassan (1984m), literally meaning the Mountain of the Moon. Also known as the Mountain of the Dead, Mt. Gassan is one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains. Its height and cloudy landscapes confer the mountain a mysterious atmosphere that certainly contributed to making people think it was the Ancestors' souls’ realm. Matsu Basho, a famous haiku poet who traveled to the Dewa Sanzan, wrote a haiku about Mt. Gassan, telling how it looked like it was made out of clouds: “The clouds like a peak / Some crumble into pieces / Mountain of the Moon.” It takes around 4 hours to climb Mt. Gassan up and 3 hours to go down for beginners. There are three pilgrim lodges on the mountain if you wish to try yourself at the pilgrim life. To reach Mt. Gassan, take the bus from Tsuruoka Station to Gassan Hachigome.