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Dewa Sanzan:
The Three Sacred Mountains
of Yamagata

The three sacred mountains of Yamagata are known as the Dewa Sanzan. “Sanzan” simply means “three mountains,” and “Dewa” is the name of the old province that became modern day Yamagata Prefecture. The three mountains of Dewa Sanzan are Mount Haguro (414m), Mount Gassan (1,984m), and Mount Yudono. These mountains have been of great spiritual significance to Shinto and Bhuddist ascetics for over 1,400 years, and they are still important to believers to this day.

Mt. Haguro five-story pagoda

Mount Haguro

Mt. Haguro is a relatively small mountain with a peak at only 414 meters above sea level, but it is particularly significant in its role as the “front entrance” to the other two mountains of Dewa Sanzan, Mt. Gassan and Mt. Yudono. Additionally, Mt. Haguro is also known throughout Japan and internationally as an invaluable cultural treasure for its five-story pagoda. You can experience Mt. Haguro’s cultural legacy yourself in a unique yearly event that allows you to take part in traditional Yamabushi mountain ascetic training. This renowned Yamabushi training is only possible at Mt. Haguro.
The 2,446 step stone stairway leading to the peak of Mt. Haguro is said to be the oldest in Japan, and the colonnade of cedar trees that can be seen on this path is classified as a Natural Monument of Japan. Along the way to the peak stands the Five-Story Pagoda. This is significant as a symbol of Mt. Haguro, and it has been designated as an Important Cultural Asset of Japan. On the summit of Mt. Haguro is the Gosaiden Temple. Gosaiden Temple is unique in Japan as a temple that venerates not just one, but all three sacred mountains. Elements such as a 2.1 meter roof made from kaya trees and a fully lacquer interior come together to create a truly awe-inspiring temple.

Gosaiden Temple
  • Access: Take a Haguro Peak/Mt. Gassan 8th Station (Haguro Sancho/Gassan Hachi-gome) bound bus from the JR Tsuruoka Station for approximately 40 minutes. Disembark at Haguro Center.

  • Haguro Center Access Map
  • For more information, contact the Tsuruoka City Tourism League (Japanese)
    Address: 997-8601 Yamagata-ken, Tsuruoka-shi, Baba-chou 9-25
    Phone: +81-235-25-2111   Fax: +81-235-25-7111
    Tsuruoka City Tourism League Web Site(Japanese)

Mount Gassan

Mt. Gassan is the tallest of the three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan, and it is one of the 100 most famous mountains in Japan. A forest of primeval beech trees and other rare plants and animals shape this mountain’s unique natural scenery. It is closed in the winter due to snow, but you can enjoy trekking and skiing on beautiful Mt Gassan from spring to fall.

*Gassan Trekking (July?October)

In a standard year, Mt. Gassan opens up for trekking on July 1st, when there is still snow on the ground. The ability to scale Mt. Gassan in just one day and witness an incredible variety of rare alpine plants growing in the mountain’s harsh climate draws many visitors.

*Gassan Summer Skiing (April?July )

Although it is closed in the winter due to an overabundance of snowfall, Mt. Gassan is open for skiers from April through the end of July. It is the only location for summer skiing in all of Japan, and it is known as a summer training location for pro skiers and lovers of mogul skiing from all over Japan.

  • Access
    (1) Take the Haguro Peak/Mt. Gassan 8th Station (Haguro Sancho / Gassan Hachi-gome) bound bus from JR Tsuruoka Station for approximately 30 minutes to Haguro Center.
    (2) Take the Tsuruoka/Sakata bound express bus from JR Yamagata Station for approximately 1 hour until Gassan-guchi. Then, transfer to a municipal bus to Gassan Ubasawa-guchi.
    (If you make reservations at a hotel in the area, you may also be able arrange for them to pick you up from Yamagata Airport or a nearby station, such as JR Sagae Station. These services focus on groups, but details vary. Please contact area hotels for specific information.)
  • For more information, contact the Gassan Asahi Tourism Assocation (Japanese)
    Address: 990-0792 Yamagata-ken, Nishimurayama-gun, Nishikawa-machi, Ooaza Kaishu 510
    Phone: +81-237-74-4119   Fax: +81-237-74-2601

Mount Yudono

Mt. Yudono is known as the heart of the three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan. The ascetics who begin their pilgrimages by going to Mt. Gassan and Mt. Haguro believe that they truly enter into holy land when they reach mount Mt. Yudono. Along with Mt. Ise in Mie Prefecture and Mt. Kumano in Wakayama Prefecture, Mt. Yudono is considered to be one of the most sacred mountains in Japan.
Mt. Yudono is famous for its goshintai, a sacred object said to symbolize and be directly connected to a god. Shrouded in a veil of mystery, this gigantic, dark brown rock is a relic of Japan’s ancient tradition of nature worship, and its esoteric secrets are known only to a select few. It is now possible to travel quite close to the goshintai by car, and there is no end in sight to visits from believers hoping to improve their fortunes.

  • Open: Late April through November 3rd
  • Access:
    (1) Take the Mt. Yudono (Yudono-san) bound bus from JR Tsuruoka Station for approximately an hour and twenty minutes until the Mt. Yudono stop.
    (2) Take the Tsuruoka/Sakata bound express bus for approximately one hour. Disembark at the Mt. Yudono Hotel, Transfer to the Mt. Yudono Temple (Yudonosan Jinjya) bound bus. Take this bus for approximately 10 minutes.
  • For more information, contact the Tsuruoka City Tourism League (Japanese)
    Address: 997-8601 Yamagata-ken, Tsuruoka-shi, Baba-chou, 9-25
    Phone: +81-235-25-2111   Fax: +81-235-25-7111
    Tsuruoka City Tourism League (Japanese)

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[For More Information Contact]
(Japanese and English)
The Yamagata Tourism Information Center
Yamagata Prefecture, Yamagata City, Jonanmachi, 1-1-1, Kajo Central
Phone +81-23-647-2333   Fax +81-23-646-6333   E-mail info@yamagatakanko.com