Dewa Sanzan Hiking Tour

One of the most secretly hidden cultures in Japan is the Three Mountains of Dewa (Sewa Sanzan) located in the Shonai region facing the Sea of Japan in Yamagata prefecture. The pilgrimage through Dewa Sanzan, experiencing the serenity and beauty of the three diverse mountains, is a rare part of Japanese spirituality, that has been kept a secret for centuries.

Dewa Sanzan is the combined name of the three sacred mountains of Mt. Haguro, (419 m) Mt. Gassan (1980 m) and Mt. Yudono (1504 m). The pilgrim hike of all three mountains is a spiritual journey that has been performed since the beginnings of Shugendo in the eighth century. Shugendo, an ancient mountaineering self-discipline with aspects of Shintoism and Buddhism. The Yamabushi (Mountain Monks) the followers of Shugendo, still practice their pagan mountain rituals today and have opened their secret ancient discipline to the public.

HikeOne of the most appealing features of the Yamabushi ascetic mountain life is their Shojin Ryori. Shojin Ryori a vegetarian cuisine that has been passed down since ancient times, prepared without meat or fish Shojin Ryori uses fresh mountain vegetables and mushrooms picked from the Dewa Sanzan mountains.

The triad of Dewa Sanzan mountains represents the past, present, and future. A journey from start to end signifies a passage through life, death, and rebirth. The first mountain Mt. Haguro represents birth, the hike up the 2,446 steps takes you through a rich emerald natural forest with large reddish-brown cedars. The second mountain Mt. Gassan represents death, the highest peak that connects the other two mountains via a stunning ridge. Due to the high elevation, Mt. Gassan can only be climbed during the summer months (July to Sept). The third and final mountain, Mt. Yadono, represents rebirth, it is here where you are asked to remove your shoes and purify yourself at the holy hot spring waters at the end of the hike.


Dewa Sanzan is now becoming a popular pilgrimage site for those wanting to explore deeper into Japan’s hidden culture. The Japanese government and some specialty inbound travel agents like us are also encouraging this trend by offering tours as well as information on these secluded sites to help reactivate rural areas.

Sample 3-Day Hiking Experience: 


Day 1: Hike Mt. Haguro - Present  
  1. - Pick-up at Shonai Airport or Tsuruoka Station
  2. - Shojin Ryori Lunch - Ishi Restaurant
  3. - Change into White Monk Garments
  4. - Mt. Haguro Hike
  5. - Shukudo Daishobo Lodging
  6. - Dinner at Lodging

Day 2: Hike Mt. Gassan - Past
  1. - Breakfast at Lodging
  2. - Bus to 8th Station Rest Area
  3. - Hike to Summit of Mt. Gassan
  4. - Stay Gassan Shizu Onsen
  5. - Dinner at Tsutaya

Day 3: Hike Mt. Yodono - Future
  1. - Visit Yudonosan 
  2. - Dainichibo (Rebirth)
  3. - Local Soba Lunch
  4. - Foodever at Mache (Shopping) 
  5. - Drop off at Tsuruoka Station or Shonai Airport 
Please contact us for more information: click here for request form