A hidden tower grows among the forest
drawing travelers into the wild

The Five-Story Pagoda of Mt. Haguro

The ancient forest leads to the five-story pagoda

The Five-Story Pagoda of Mt. Haguro

Deep within a grove of cedar trees still wet with the morning dew of Mt. Haguro perches a five-story pagoda reaching 29 meters to the sky. The pagoda nestles quietly amidst a thicket of massive 1,000-year-old “old man” cedar trees, shrouded in beauty and mystery.

Built some 600 years ago, the pagoda is constructed of natural, un-lacquered wood without any paint or embellishments. The long eaves, bathed in the sparkling light of the early morning, resemble the wings of a swan poised to take flight. The elegant towering silhouette wears a different face for each of Japan’s four seasons. The pagoda has withstood several hundred years of severe winter wind and heavy snow, drawing the hearts of travelers with an appearance at once both austere and gentle.

Mt. Haguro is one of the three holy peaks known as Dewa Sanzan(Dewa three mountains), sacred symbols of Yamabushi—ascetic mountain priests—for over 1,400 years. Past the five-story pagoda and up 2446 stone steps is the Dewa Sanzan Sanjin Gousaiden, a wooden building with a thatched roof that enshrines the spirits of Mt. Haguro, Mt. Gassan, and Mt. Yudono. Each New Year’s Eve marks the Shoureisai, a holy ritual of fire to pray for good fortune and a bountiful harvest in the year ahead, as the 108 chimes of the New Year’s Eve bell sound out at midnight. Each year people flock to this holy mountain, braving the cold and snow, to cast off the old year and welcome the new.

A day in the life at Mt. Haguro

Japanese mountain priest rings the sacred bell

The shide paper streamers sway gently in the wind

Purifying water at the chozuya pavilion

Dewa Sanzan Shrine
7 Toge, Toge, Haguro Town, Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture 997-0292
+81 235 62 2355
http://www.dewasanzan.jp/publics/index/47/
Open hours:
8:30 – 17:00
Access:
About 50 minutes by Shonai Kotsu Bus for Mt. Haguro from Tsuruoka City About 10km from Tsuruoka Interchange Exit, Yamagata Expressway
Yamabushi experience experience program is held every summer. Refer to the homepage for content and expense of training. Mountain to Haguroyama is free.