Shinto Torii Gate Yudono-san Dewa Sanzan Yamagata

Dewa Sanzan 3/3: Yudono-san

I follow the trekkers down a precipitous slope. It has busy traffic, but the mountain can accommodate us all. The sheer path is made entirely of loose rocks on dry dirt. I’m wary. I rolled my left ankle, yet again, on my way up Gassan. Rocks and dirt, the most harmonious path with nature is also the most dangerous for bad feet. I shouldn’t be doing this. There’s already pain in my ankle. I use my staves as feet down to avoid the pain in my knees. I inch. Everyone, the numerous elderly included, pass me. I smile and greet…

Dewa Sanzan 2/3: Gassan

This is part of a 5-part series on the Dewa Sanzan which includes diary entries and travel information. The bus ride winds down the hill from Haguro-san and picks up visitors staying at a mountain lodge. From there, it traverses wild grassland sprinkled with haphazard shrubs before climbing Gassan. Gassan, just shy of 2000 metres, is a long ride away. We enter deep forests and loop around winding roads for a while. The glimpses of the hills sliding down are spectacular. The morning clouds cast shadows that illuminate the surrounding green ridges. Even the treeline changes. It begins with a dense mix…

Yamagata Haguro-san Dewa Sanzan

Dewa Sanzan 1/3: Haguro-san

This is part of a 5-part series on the Dewa Sanzan which includes 3 diary entries and travel information. August 7, 2015. It’s been a week since I finished the Ohenro, but I’m already back. I rise when the sky is still ashen, at 5am. Here, in the northern prefecture of Yamagata, the morning air is crisp, almost chilly. Today, I’ll see the Dewa Sanzan. They are one of the holiest centres of Shugendo, right up there with Mount Koya for Shingon Buddhism. In the darkness of the ryokan, I pack my half-empty bag and snack on a biscuit for breakfast….