Saturday, July 12, 2014

There is a very special pilgrimage site in Japan’s ancient province of Dewa (now Yamagata prefecture). In the Japanese Shinto religion, this is considered a holy place, but even for a non-believer it represents a wonderfully serene destination. It is called Dewa Sanzan, which means “Three Mountains of Dewa”.

Only one of the three holy mountains can be visited all year round, and that is Mount Haguro. It is also the most easily accessible of all, with a humble height of only 1,358 feet. The summit can be reached by climbing a long path with 2,466 stone steps.

The walk is not difficult, but definitely tiring, so visitors will be happy to find a lovely teahouse about halfway to the top. Here tourists can stop and enjoy some refreshments before resuming their pilgrimage towards the shrine at the summit. Here the Sanzan Gosaiden temple represents a place of veneration of the spirits of the mountains.

Also noteworthy is the place where Japanese poet Basho found inspiration for one of his famous poems. You can visit it near the tea house and then continue your way to the top of the mountain. And also make sure you don’t miss the six centuries old five-story pagoda called Goju-no-to, which is a remarkable National Treasure.

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