The Beginning of Rebirth – Pilgrims to Mt.Haguro of Dewa Sanzan and Toji (湯治) Onsen Experience in Naruko Onsen from Tokyo

Find Yourself – Dewa Sanzan

Hiking Mt. Haguro and Onsen Experience in Naruko - panorama

Dewa Sanzan is the collective name for Mt.Haguro(414m), Mt.Gassan (1,984m) and Mt.Yudono(1,504m).
Mt.Gassan is the central peak, which boasts a beautiful ridge connecting it to both Mt.Haguro and Mt.Yudono.

Mt.Haguro was enshrined by the son of emperor Sushun, Prince Hachiko, around 1,400 years ago, and is the center of Haguro Shugendo training. Shugendo is a form of mountain worship unique to Japan that combines nature worship with esoteric Buddhist elements.

The main point of Haguro Shugendo is that it takes after the characteristics of the three mountains with Mt.Haguro (the mountain of the present) prayed to for happiness in the current life, Mt.Gassan (the mountain of the past) for a peaceful afterlife, and Mt.Yudono(the mountain of the future) for rebirth.

The practice in which it is thought that while still alive you can be reborn as a new soul became popular among the public during the Edo period as a way to reclaim youthful vitality, and was when the ritual – called San-kan San-do in Haguro Shugendo – came to be known as a “Journey of rebirth”.

Nationally designated significant natural monument, awarded 3 stars in the Michelin Green Guide Japan.


Day 1 Pilgrims to Mt.Haguro

JR Tokyo station ▶ JR Tsuruoka station via JR Niigata station

Starting at Mt.Haguro’s Zuishin-mon

• The Gate of Dual Deities
Zuishin-mon, the Gate of Dual Deities, at the entrance of Mt.Haguro is where the 2,446 step stone stairway begins.

• Stone Stairway on Mt.Haguro
The 2,446 step stone stairway stretches roughly 2 km from the Gate of Dual Deities to the summit.
There are 33 engravings on the steps, and it is said that if you can find all of them your wishes will come true.

• Jiji-sugi: The Grandpa Cedar Tree
Jiji-sugi, the grandpa Cedar Tree, is an ancient cedar tree believed to be over 1,000 years old.

Hiking Mt. Haguro and Onsen Experience in Naruko - Mt Haguro
• The Five-Story Pagoda of Mt.Haguro
The roof was built in an antique Japanese style.

• Minami-dani: Mt.Haguro’s Southern Valley
Matsuo Basho stayed while on his journey writing The Narrow Road to the Deep North. The place has become a hidden sanctuary on Mt.Haguro due to its tranquil atmosphere, which makes one feel as if time is standing still.

• Mt.Haguro’s Sanjin Gosaiden
Sanjin Gosaiden is the main shrine building at the top of Mt.Haguro.
The pond in front of the building, Kagami-ike (Mirror Pond).

• Mt.Haguro Hachiko Shrine
The shrine is dedicated to Prince Hachiko, who enshrined the Three Mountains of Dewa and was said to have saved people from their suffering in his day.

• Mt.Haguro’s Shozen-in Koganedo
The reflecting golden light of the 33 Kanon statues inside led to the name being changed to Koganedo.

Accommodation: Mt.Haguro Saikan
The Mt.Haguro Saikan is a temple at the top of the San no Zaka steps.

Day 2 Toji (湯治) Onsen Experience in Naruko Onsen

JR Tsuruoka station ▶ JR Naruko Gotenyu station

Naruko Onsenkyo
Naruko Onsen charms are quiet and simple, these waters are said to possess distinct healing qualities.

Naruko Gorge is 2.5 km long and has a 100m high sheer precipice.The scenic spot is especially beautiful in the seasons of verdant green and fall colors.

Accommodation: Ryokan Ohnuma

hot springs Ryokan Ohnuma

There are 8 distinctive baths at this hot springs inn where guests can experience some of the hot springs therapies Japanese have practiced since long ago. There are various baths available, including baths that can be reserved for privacy. An open-air private hot spring bath at a mountain cottage blends in with the surrounding natural environment. Vegetarian and Vegan friendly ryokan.

Day 3 Yamadera → Tokyo

JR Naruko Gotenyu station to JR Yamadera station via Sendai

Hiking Mt. Haguro and Onsen Experience in Naruko - Yamadera1

Founded in 860, it has attracted worshipers since long ago as a temple for ending bad relationships. The path to the summit takes about 40 minutes to walk one way. Godaido Hall that stands on a precipice acts as a lookout offering a panoramic view of the mountain village.
Stunning view from the top of 1015 stone steps.
There is Yamadera Basho Kinenkan in near the station which is a very quiet museum exhibiting scrolls and calligraphy related to Basho’s famous northern journey.

JR Yamadera station to JR Tokyo station.

Available departures

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Naruko Onsen (Miyagi Prefecture)

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