Mount Haguro, Mount Gassan and Mount Yudono, known as the Three Mountains of Dewa, have been revered as sacred mountains for hundreds of years. Travelling to these three mountains is said to be a journey of reincarnation as believers pray for the present on Mount Haguro, for the past on Mount Gassan and for the future on Mount Yudono. A popular proverb goes “a western pilgrimage to Ise Shrine and an eastern pilgrimage to the Three Mountains of Dewa”, and these mountains are a well-known destination for a once in a lifetime visit. The main peak of the Three Mountains of Dewa, Mount Gassan worships Tsukiyomi-no-Mikoto, a moon god presiding over reincarnation from the other world.
While long worshipped as a sacred mountain, Mount Gassan has also been selected as one of Japan’s 100 greatest mountains for flowers and visitors can enjoy a variety of flowers and wonderful views on its gentle mountain ridge. Rare wild plants are in bloom during the short summer period including black lilies and Japanese spatterdocks. Colourful autumn leaves cover the surface of the mountain in mid-September, and skiing is available in late spring and early summer. Hikers can drive or take a bus to the eighth station of Mount Gassan and enjoy the three-hour gentle trail known as the Haguro Course to the mountain top traversing an altitude increase of 500 metres. Along the way walkers pass the Midagahara Wetlands and the craggy slope known as “Anja Gaeshi”, before reaching the mountain top 1,984m above sea level. The panoramic view from here stretches as far as the Sea of Japan.
Having been worshipped as a sacred mountain for many years, Mount Gassan is a popular destination for pilgrims who come wearing white. Please note that photography is not allowed in Gassan Shrine at the top of the mountain. Visitors need to receive the chief priest’s purification service before visiting the main shrine building. Once at the shrine reflect on your previous life and pray for an easy and peaceful transition to the future at this shrine ruling over reincarnation!