Dewa-sanzan is the collective name for the three holy mountains of Haguro-san, Gas-san and Yudono-san.
The mountains gained their holy status over 1,400 years ago after the son of the reigning Emperor made a pilgrimage to the area to practice severe esthetic religious exercises which later became the founding principles of Shugendo Buddhism.
This type of Buddhism is an ancient blend of esoteric Buddhism, Chinese Taoism and Shinto deity worship and is practiced by the Yamabushi mountain priests, who link their religious practices strongly with the nature of the mountains. To become a Yamabushi one must endure many rites of passage, including meditation, hiking, wrestling, food deprivation and other forms of self-denial that bring one closer to nature.
The Yamabushi are easily recognizable from their distinctive garb of checked overshirts, billowing white trousers, straw sandals and small, peaked hats. They can also be heard from miles off by sounding their conch-shell trumpets.
The monks are now scattered all over Dewa-sanzan and you will most likely catch a glimpse of one scurrying up the mountain or at one of the many temples in the area.
Dewa-sanzan is best explored over a number of days as there are some arduous climbs, but if your time is more limited then hike up to the top of either Mt Haguro or Mt Gas-san, both of which are around two hour ascents.
Suggested itinerary featuring Dewa-sanzan
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Map of Dewa-sanzan
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Places near Dewa-sanzan
- Tohoku 89 kilometers away
- Matsushima 103 kilometers away
- Kakunodate 127 kilometers away
- Tazawako 143 kilometers away
- Nyuto Onsen 152 kilometers away
- Nikko 206 kilometers away
- Towadako & Hirosaki 228 kilometers away
- Yudanaka 244 kilometers away
- Noto Peninsula 261 kilometers away
- Hakuba 279 kilometers away
- The Japanese Alps 288 kilometers away
- Matsumoto 313 kilometers away
- Tateyama 314 kilometers away
- Tokyo 320 kilometers away
- Kamikochi 324 kilometers away
- Takayama 361 kilometers away
- Kamakura 361 kilometers away
- Kanazawa 367 kilometers away
- Hakodate 368 kilometers away
- Shirakawago 372 kilometers away
- Hakone & Mount Fuji 381 kilometers away
- Tsumago 393 kilometers away
- Izu Peninsula 417 kilometers away
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Ideas for experiencing Dewa-sanzan
Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Dewa-sanzan, and which use the best local guides.
Dewa-sanzan is the collective name for the three holy mountains of Haguro-san, Gas-san and Yudono-san. The mountains gained their holy status over 1,400 years ago after the son of the reigning Emperor made a pilgrimage to the area to practice severe esthetic religious exercises which later became the founding principles of Shugendo Buddhism.View details