THE DEWA SANZAN

The Three Mountains of Dewa

North Japan's premiere location for spiritual rebirth

The Dewa Sanzan

For millennia, thousands upon thousands have flocked to the Dewa Sanzan in search of spiritual transformation, the chance to start again, the chance to be reborn. Now it's your turn.

Pilgrim Routes

Learn all you need to know before and during a hike on the Dewa Sanzan.

Stone Steps up Mt. Haguro of the Dewa Sanzan that Matsuo Basho would have climbed
Fudomyo'o on Mt. Haguro of the Dewa Sanzan

Uketamo

(I Accept)

Read a first-hand account about a unique Yamabushi experience on the Dewa Sanzan by Donny Kimball, Tokyo based digital marketing and PR maverick with a penchant for exploring the lesser known sides of Japan.

Book Accommodation

As the places and food on offer can be similar, many guests ask for a bit of variation during their stay. Even if you don't have specific requests, booking through us can guarantee your stay is as enjoyable as can be.

The path to Saikan from the stone stairway on Mt. Haguro of the Dewa Sanzan
Dewa Sanzan Shojin Ryori at Daishobo, a Shukubo Pilgrim Lodge at the bottom of Mt. Haguro

Book Meals

Only staying for a short while? Be sure to try some of the Dewa Sanzan's Shojin Ryori Ascetic Cuisine. Lunch can be ordered at Saikan at the top of Mt. Haguro lovingly prepared by chef Shinkichi Ito using ingredients that incorporate preservation techniques developed centuries ago. If you want a special tour, just ask. Email us with and we can make sure your meal is made to your requirements.

ALL ABOUT RELIGION IN JAPAN

Shinto shrines on the grounds of former temples, self-mummifying monks, its own religion, the Dewa Sanzan is a hotpot of Japanese religion. Learn all about religion in Japan with this article based on the Dewa Sanzan.

Mt. Yudono of the Dewa Sanzan

The Dewa Sanzan

Pilgrimage of Rebirth

The ancient Japanese regarded all mountains as sacred, a belief passed down from generation to generation. Yamabushi mountain ascetics bravely ventured into the Dewa Sanzan and emerged with a fresh vigour akin to being reborn. Thus, traversing the Dewa Sanzan became known as a pilgrimage of rebirth, the mountains themselves the mother's womb. 

Fudomyo'o on Mt. Haguro of the Dewa Sanzan
Mt. Gassan of the Dewa Sanzan seen from the sky in the winter

Three Sacred Peaks

Nestled in the Tohoku Region between inland Yamagata Prefecture and the Shonai coast on the Sea of Japan, the Dewa Sanzan is the collective name for the three sacred mountains of Dewa; Mt. Haguro, Mt. Gassan, and Mt. Yudono, the location for the pilgrimage of rebirth for over 1400 years. 

A Trip Through Time

Mt. Haguro represents the present and the salvation of the current world’s hardships. Mt. Gassan represents the past or the afterlife where the ancestors reside and where we atone for our wrongdoings. Lastly, Mt. Yudono represents rebirth or the world of the future where we come face to face with our future selves. 

Sanjingosaiden Shrine at the top of Mt. Haguro of the Dewa Sanzan in Autumn

Spiritual Awakening

It is believed that Buddha’s mantras are projected onto the Dewa Sanzan, so navigating them means to learn and embody their secrets. From the founder, Prince Hachiko, who in 592 journeyed to the sacred peaks in the hope of salvation for the people, to Kobo Daishi, commonly known as Kukai, the monk who brought Shingon Buddhism to Japan, and of course Matsuo Basho, Japan’s most prominent Haiku poet, millions have been attracted to the Dewa Sanzan in search of a spiritual awakening for centuries. 

Mt. Haguro

Mt. Gassan

Mt. Yudono

Discover the Dewa Sanzan

Stone Steps up Mt. Haguro of the Dewa Sanzan that Matsuo Basho would have climbed
Explore the Three Peaks

Explore the Michelin-starred stone stairway, cedar forests, the Five Story Pagoda and main shrine of Mt. Haguro, encounter your ancestors in the realm of the dead on Mt. Gassan, and come face-to-face with your future self at the object of worship on Mt. Yudono

Yamabushi training on Mt. Haguro during autumn
Follow in the Footsteps

Follow in the footsteps of Kukai, the Buddhist monk responsible for bringing Esoteric Buddhism to Japan, and Matsuo Basho, Japan’s premiere Haiku Poet, to see why he was so infatuated with Oku, the deep north.

Dewa Sanzan Shojin Ryori at Daishobo, a Shukubo Pilgrim Lodge at the bottom of Mt. Haguro
Savour the Cuisine

Savour Dewa Sanzan Shojin Ryori (ascetic cuisine) made exclusively of vegetables from the surrounding mountains. Stay in the former temple, Saikan, or the Shukubo Pilgrim Lodges dedicated to serving pilgrims on their journey.

Yamabushi train on the stone stairway amongst the cedars on Mt. Haguro of the Dewa Sanzan
Meet the Yamabushi

Discover how the three sacred mountains came to be the only location in Japan with a thriving Shinto Yamabushi culture.

Relive the Stories

Relive the stories of gruelling training and learn about why Buddhist monks strove to become Sokushinbutsu Living Buddha or Buddha Mummies.

Master Hoshino during waterfall meditation on the Dewa Sanzan
Get Reborn

Take part in the sacred rituals and events of the Dewa Sanzan, such as the Flower Festival or the Shoreisai Festival on Mt. Haguro  and embody the Haguro Shugendo philosophy of Uketamo and get reborn in a Dewa Sanzan pilgrimage of rebirth.

Experiences on the Dewa Sanzan

Fudomyo'o on Mt. Haguro of the Dewa Sanzan

Authentic Yamabushi Training on the Dewa Sanzan

Join Master Hoshino, the 13th generation Yamabushi Master of Daishobo Pilgrim Lodge and the Yamabushido team as they embark on a Haguro Shugendo-style pilgrimage of rebirth on the Dewa Sanzan.

Nearby Locations

Zenpoji Temple Monastery near Yutagawa in Tsuruoka

Zenpoji Temple

Tsuruoka City

Zen monks have been training in Zenpoji Temple for over a millennium. Dedicated to the ocean, the temple is home to one of Tsuruoka City’s five-storied pagodas, the only city in Japan to have more than one, illustrating the strong spiritual beliefs of the townspeople.

Zenpoji Temple is dedicated to the worship of the ocean, as opposed to the mountains, and contains a shrine where two dragon gods reside, with dragons traditionally symbolising water in the east.

The temple offers Zen experiences such as meditation and calligraphy, and guests are also welcome to stay there. Let the Megurun team guide you on a Zen experience.

Temple at the top of Yamadera Risshakuji Temple, Yamagata, Japan

Yamadera Temple

Yamagata City

Yamadera is a picturesque temple hanging on the precipice of a cliff founded over 1,000 years ago. Notable for its views, a climb up the 1,015 steps is akin to climbing up to paradise.

 

Matsuo Basho didn’t originally plan on visiting Yamadera Temple, however, when questioned multiple times on whether he had been there, it was obvious he simply had to go. 

 

And it is a wonderful thing he did, for he phrased a Haiku that succinctly encapsulates the essence of the Japanese.

Discover another side of Yamadera with an experience by Megurun, the team behind the Yamabushido programs.

The utter silence… 

Cutting through the very stone

A cicada's rasp 

 

-Matsuo Basho 

Accessing the Dewa Sanzan

The Dewa Sanzan are located in the middle of Yamagata Prefecture in the northern Tohoku Region of Japan.

  • The Dewa Sanzan are served by Shonai (SYO) and Yamagata (GAJ) Airports, or Sendai Airport (SDJ) in Miyagi Prefecture.
  • Each of the Dewa Sanzan can be reached by road.

Learn all about the best ways to access the Dewa Sanzan with our Ultimate Guide to Accessing the Dewa Sanzan article.

Yamabushi train on the stone stairway of Mt. Haguro of the Dewa Sanzan

Insider information and updates on

The Dewa Sanzan

BOOK ACCOMMODATION

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Send us an email and we'll help you with your booking in person

Let us know any requests you have, and we'll try to accommodate you.

info@dewasanzan.com

BOOK MEALS

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Send us an email and we'll help you with your booking in person

Let us know any requests you have, and we'll try to accommodate you.

info@dewasanzan.com

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