For the first time we are going to talk about Yamagata Prefecture! Here lays a mountain which faces on the Shōnai plain, a fascinating region that makes you feel like going back in time: here’s Mount Haguro!
What’s special about Mount Haguro?
Mt. Haguro is, together with Gas-san and Yudono-san, one of the three Dewa Mountains, known as Dewa Sanzan in Japanese: they are holy mountains where, over the last 1400 years, the cult of the Shugendō (a religious current which combines esoteric Buddhism and Shintō beliefs) has been practiced.
Among these three mountains, Mt. Haguro is the lowest, but it’s the only one accessible throughout the whole year. Moreover, the Dewa Shrine is also here located: it plays the main role among this area’s places of worship. Sanjin Gosaiden’s straw roof is 2 meters thick, and it is so the thickest straw roof of Japan.
Mt. Haguro has a rich nature: the Shugendō monks, called Yamabushi, enter this mountain’s forest to practice ascetic trainings. It is possible to see them walking around the buildings and listen to the sound of their Horagai, big shells used as horns.
Hidden in the woods a majestic five-storied pagoda is located, recorded as National Treasure.
How to get to Mount Haguro?
Click here to see how to reach the mountain and get ready to walk!
We visited Mt. Haguro in July. On the way to the mountain we passed under a 21 mt-high torii, which indicates the entrance to the holy area. We reached the mountain top walking the long stone stair, surrounded by huge sugi (cryptomeria japonica) trees.
This represented, at least for us, a half of this place’s charm: the more you go on, the more you feel like entering a mysterious, ancient world.
On the top we walked towards the Sanjin Gosaiden: while looking at the thick straw roof we could hear the monks reciting their mantras and playing drums, it was very impressing.
Then, we entered the woods, where a small waterfall played as background for a few holy buildings linked by a pretty crimson-red bridge. Walking on, we finally reached the pagoda: we’ve been enchanted by this building, 29 mt-high!
Mt. Haguro is worthy of its role; the ancient, holy atmosphere will be forever among the best feelings we have had in our lives.