Mt. Hakusan: Sacred Peak of Natural Beauty *RERUN
Rising above the highlands of central Japan, Mt. Hakusan (2,702 meters) is considered of the most sacred peaks in the country. Since ancient times, it has been venerated as the home of the Shinto deities and a paradise of the Buddha. To this day, there is a shrine at the foot of the mountain dedicated to the worship of Mt. Hakusan, with its inner sanctum on the actual summit. The trails to the peak follow ancient pilgrimage routes, which have been carefully maintained since ancient times. Close to the top, there are wild meadows filled with alpine plants that decorate the slopes with their colorful blooms in early summer. On this episode of Journeys in Japan, Australian photographer Peter Skov delves into the sacred traditions, climbs to the summit, explores the wild nature on the mountaintop, and discovers its natural splendor.

Shirayama Hime Jinja Shrine

At this shrine, the object of worship is Mt. Hakusan itself. The main sanctuary is located at the start of the pilgrimage route on the Ishikawa Prefecture side, while its inner sanctuary is at the summit. At the main sanctuary, visitors can undertake a Shinto purification ritual known as Misogi, under the guidance of a shrine priest. During the summer, priests are permanently stationed at the inner sanctuary. When the weather conditions are right, they conduct prayer rituals to greet the rising of the sun.

Yukidaruma Cafe

The village of Shiramine, deep in the mountains, is one of the starting points for the pilgrimage to the peak of Mt. Hakusan. In the old days it was filled with visitors from around Japan, and you can still find many handsome wooden buildings dating from those times. This cafe, housed inside one of those old houses, serves local specialties that are traditional to this area, including foraged wild plants and dishes made from grains such as finger millet, which is rarely grown today.

Hakusan Murodo Visitor Center

This visitor center is located at a height of 2,450 meters, just below the summit of Mt. Hakusan. As many as 750 people can stay overnight here, and during the peak summer climbing season, it even has a post office and medical clinic. There are also guides who conduct nature observation walks free of charge.

Access

From Tokyo, it takes 2 and a half hours by Shinkansen bullet train to Kanazawa. From there it is 30 minutes by local train to Tsurugi, and then a 1-hour bus ride to Shiramine. To reach the trailhead, it is another 30 minutes by bus from Shiramine.