Dewa Sanzan: Mystic Mountains of Prayers *RERUN
Dewa Sanzan is located in the center of Yamagata Prefecture, in the Tohoku region of Japan. Mt. Haguro, Mt. Gassan and Mt. Yudono. Collectively, these 3 mountains are called Dewa Sanzan. The pilgrimage of Dewa Sanzan symbolizes the death and rebirth of a person. It is believed that something important can be obtained by climbing the mountains.

The Summit of Mt. Gassan

This is the shrine on the summit of Mt. Gassan, at an altitude of 1,984 meters. July 1 is the first day of the climbing season. Many people are gathered from early morning. Many pilgrims climb up the mountain one after another for the Mountain Opening Ritual at 11:00 a.m. Summer begins for the pilgrims. About 200,000 of them climb these mountain roads every year.


This is the Toge district at the foot of the sacred mountains. Here, there are unique inns called Shukubo. The Shukubo are lodgings that were started by temples and shrines to accommodate large groups of worshipers. The groups that stay in Shukubo are called Ko. They are groups of local residents who regularly make pilgrimages to sacred areas. The Shukubo not only offers accommodation, but also mountain guiding. Currently there are about 1,400 Kos that visit Dewa Sanzan.


New Year's Eve, the day of the Shoreisai Festival. The Matsu-hijiri arrives at the Dewa Sanzan Shrine on Mt. Haguro. The Matsu-hijiri is selected from among the Yamabushi who are under ascetic training in Dewa Sanzan. His prayers continue for 50 days in a room at home, and then for another 50 days secluded in the mountains. And finally, while sprinkling the seeds of rice and wheat that he has prayed over for 100 days, the Matsu-hijiri wishes for a peaceful life of the people of this land.