Skip to content
Please select your location:

Dewa-sanzan, Japan

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 1400 years ago after the son of the reigning Emperor made a pilgrimage to the area to practice severe aesthetic religious exercises which later became the founding principles of Shugendo Buddhism.

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

The Yamabushi are easily recognisable 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.

Exploring Dewa-sanzan

Dewa-sanzan is best explored over a number of days as there are some arduous climbs, but if your time is more limited then a hike up to the top of either Mt Haguro or Mt Gas-san, both of which are around 2 hour ascents.

Speak to someone
who's been there
Audley Travel specialist David

Start planning your tailor-made trip to Dewa-sanzan by calling one of our Japan specialists on 01993 838 210

Suggested Dewa-sanzan itinerary

This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in Dewa-sanzan, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Dewa-sanzan

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Dewa-sanzan

    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.