Mt. Haguro Five Story Pagoda Light Up
Written by Timothy Bunting
Compliment those long summer days hiking on the Dewa Sanzan with the Five Story Pagoda Light Up on Mt. Haguro. Those who have made the pilgrimage to Mt. Haguro in Tsuruoka know that the atmosphere is second to none. During the day, the canopy of cedar trees casts a shadow over the ancient stone stairway leading to Sanjingosaiden Shrine at the top. It is such a harrowing sight that it silenced even the most prolific of Haiku poets, Matsuo Basho, when he visited there in the 1600s. Well, take that atmosphere, and turn it up to 11 with the Mt. Haguro Five Story Pagoda Light Up.
If you’re staying at the Shukubo Pilgrim Lodges, have some Shojin Ryori for purification, get out your tabi (split-toe shoes), grab your tsue (walking stick), pick up your lantern, and let the fireflies guide you into the night. Once you’ve paid the ¥500 entrance fee, simply follow the path through the Zuishinmon gates, past the Massha shrines, over the Shinkyo Bridge on the Haraigawa River, and up to the Five Story Pagoda Light Up.
The Five Story Pagoda Light Up is on every weekend from July to October and public holidays. If you’re in town on the 14th and 15th of July, also check out the Mt. Haguro Dewa Sanzan Flower Festival. For those visiting at the end of August, check out the Hassaku Festival, also at the top of Mt. Haguro. Visiting in autumn? Take advantage of the autumn foliage for a spot of Momijigari, autumn leave hunting. The Five Story Pagoda Light Up is also on during the week of Obon (August 10-18). On these nights, the street of Shukubo Pilgrim Lodges adjacent to Zuishinmon will also have lanterns out for an atmospheric walk.
From August 10th to 18th, there is a special Five Story Pagoda Light Up stamp that you can collect. The 12th to the 14th of October is a special pink ribbon event when the pagoda will be lit up pink. And finally, from the 5th to the 27th of October, the path from the Shinkyo Bridge over the Haraigawa River will have rainbow-coloured lighting. So, get out your calendars, mark the following dates, and make the pilgrimage to the Five Story Pagoda Light Up.
Besides the Five Story Pagoda Light Up, Mt. Gassan and Mt. Yudono are also open at this time of year if you want to do the pilgrimage of rebirth on the Dewa Sanzan. Although, we don’t recommend going up there at night!
July: 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 27, 28
August: 3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 24, 25, 31
September: 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29
October: 5, 6, 19, 20, 26, 27
First, you’ll need to make your way to the Zuishinmon gates at the base of Mt. Haguro. For those using public transport, information for busses between Tsuruoka Station and Mt. Haguro and can be found here. Or, you can follow our guide on getting to the Dewa Sanzan. The event starts at the Zuishinmon gates at the base of Mt. Haguro. If you’re staying in a Shukubo, it’s a very short walk. If you’re staying in Saikan, we’d recommend taking a bus or driving a car down the mountain.
The Five Story Pagoda Light Up is an excellent opportunity to see another side of Mt. Haguro’s very own national treasure. It’s also a great way to take in the already immense atmosphere of Mt. Haguro. If you’re going to visit the area, be sure to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
The Five Story Pagoda can only be accessed on the stone stairway, so bring proper walking shoes (or go barefoot even). The entrance fee includes lantern rental, but bring a torch just in case. Neither the committee nor Dewa Sanzan.com is responsible for any injury or accident that occurs. Enter at your own risk.
Mt. Haguro (from Zuishinmon at the bottom)
July to October
6pm in July and August, 5:30pm in September and October
8:30pm in July and August, 8pm in September and October
National Treasure Mt. Haguro Five Story Pagoda Light Up Committee
Tim Bunting is a Dewa Sanzan Shrine Yamabushi with over 10 years’ experience living beneath the three mystical peaks. He is a self-professed Dewa Sanzan nerd, and is currently working on the Yamabushido project and Dewa Sanzan Monzenmachi Project with Megurun Inc. His roles including assisting in Yamabushi trainings, translating, interpreting, and curating Dewasanzan.com.
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