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Mt Haguro

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"One of the most spiritual and mysterious places in all of Japan"

Alastair Donnelly - Director


Haguro-san is the lowest of the three peaks of Dewa-sanzan. Located 414 metres above sea level, a climb to the top of this peak is rewarded with fantastic views of the Japan Sea and rice fields of the Shonai Plain.

The name “Haguro” means “black wing” and the mountain got its name from a legend which recalls the story of an Imperial prince who ran away after the death of his Father. In a vision, he was guided to the peak of Haguro-san by a three-legged crow. He lived atop the mountain until aged 90 and was the first of the mountain’s famed “Yamabushi,” mountain priests. Nowadays, Haguro-san is the site of religious pilgrimage although some still choose the life of austerity. This once consisted of living in a cave, eating a diet of wild nuts and garlic and meditating under icy cold waterfalls. Yamabushi are distinctive with their checked jackets, white knickerbockers and small Jimmy Cooper style hats. Occasionally a haunting cry rings out around the hills. This is the conch shell horn used by the Yamabushi to call the spirits of the mountain…

Haguro-san is a place charged with spirits and religious mysticism as well as being a challenging climb. The path is formed by three staircases which reach to the large red torii gate marking the entrance to a shrine, Gosaiden. This is the home of Dewa-sanzan’s three main deities who stand guard under an impressive thatched roof. The view of Gosaiden is intensified by Kagami lake where it is purported that the spirits of the three deities can be seen reflected. The name “Kagami” means mirror and stems from the days when only men were allowed to make the climb to Gosaiden. So they could make an offering, the women sent mirrors, which were then thrown into the lake as a votive to the spirits of the temple.

Whatever your religious persuasion, there is a strangely magical atmosphere at Haguro, which should leave you feeling moved and spiritually cleansed.




Products featuring Mt Haguro...
Small Group Tour
To the North-East of Tokyo the Tohoku region stretches out for some 700 miles, a gentler Japan than that of the western coast; one characterised by its paddy fields, ancient mountaintop monasteries, friendly rural towns and villages. A Northern Soul will connect you to a Japan few tourists visit.

14 Nights: £2650
Self Guided Adventure
When the famous Haiku poet Matsuo Basho set off on his pilgrimage to the North he was to discover rural Japan, a land of lush landscapes and rich in legend. As you journey through the pilgrimage towns of Tohoku and on to remote Sado Island you’ll experience some of the same Japan as the great poet.

14 Nights: £1920
Inside Japan Tours - Independent British Travel Awards 2011 - Best Tour Operator To East and Central Asia
The Guardian, The Observer - Travel Awards 2010 Winner - Best tour operator (small)
Inside Japan Tours - Silver at the British Travel Awards 2009