A Spiritual Hike on Mt. Haguro
DEGAM Tsuruoka Tourism Bureau
Mt. Haguro, in the forests surrounding Tsuruoka City in Yamagata Prefecture, is one of the Three Sacred Mountains of Dewa, a National Heritage site and one of Japan’s oldest pilgrimage routes.
Also known as Dewa Sanzan, for more than 1,400 years pilgrims have come here to climb the mountains to simulate a spiritual death, in what is known as ‘the Journey of Rebirth’. It is believed the three mountains have unique powers, with each peak representing a stage in life. Mt. Haguro embodies the present life and the living world; Mt. Gassan incarnates the past and the Dead world; and Mt. Yudono symbolizes the future and reincarnation.
To take part in the pilgrimage of Mt. Haguro you must climb the 2,446 stone steps that start at Zuishinmon gate up to the top, Haguro-sanchō. On the way, you will pass Mt. Haguro's Five-Storied pagoda, a National Treasure which has stood in the middle of the cedar forest for six centuries. It is the only pagoda of its kind that is not painted. The wooden walls of the pagoda are left bare so the human construction can fuse with the surrounding nature, a legacy from Shugendo philosophy, an ancient Japanese practice of mountain and nature worship.
You can climb Mt. Haguro from mid-April to early December. Allow 90 minutes to complete the ascent.
35 minutes by bus from Tsuruoka Station.
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