Trek with Yamabushi: Winter in Haguro

Discover Yamabushi culture and the stillness and beauty of this sacred landscape in winter.


Experience Outline

Setting out from a Shukubo (pilgrim lodge) and walking in the holy mountains with a Yamabushi guide is an age-old practice for those seeking spiritual, emotional, and physical refreshment. Most come to Mount Haguro to seek spiritual solace in nature during the green seasons, however, we have created this special opportunity to take this path in the quiet and the snows of winter. This “rebirth” in the mountains is a key tenet of Yamabushi Shugendo practices. In this experience you will follow in the footsteps of centuries of Yamabushi and pilgrims who have been coming to Mount Haguro to seek spiritual solace in nature.


Experience Details

Welcomed into Daishinbo Pilgrim Lodge, your Experience begins here, meeting your Yamabushi guide and interpreter. In the tradition of so many pilgrims before you, you will prepare yourself by donning a white robe, called “gyohi”, and creating a sacred boundary around yourself with your “shime”, an ornate paper necklace. Your pilgrimage starts when you leave the lodge and proceed to the mountain’s official entrance gate, Zuishinmon.

Your trek will pass through the gate, and your Yamabushi leader will guide you through the sacred and beautiful sites of Mount Haguro, touching on their spiritual importance as well as pausing for moments of reflection. The mountain’s spiritual landmarks take on a unique beauty in the stark white carpet of snow and the stillness of winter. After reaching the summit you will enter the very sanctuary of the Sanjingosaiden Shrine and participate in a ritual blessing inside. Having completed the pilgrimage from the Shukubo lodge, Daishinbo will present you with an “Ofuda” – the sacred talisman or charm. This is a symbol of your rebirth, a reminder, and a spiritual protection for your daily life. Before descending, you will be welcomed to Saikan, the temple lodge, for a unique lunch introducing you to the full range of traditional, ascetic, Shojin cuisine.The meal is made up of many small dishes, with ingredients foraged and produced locally in line with ancient customs.

This kind of pilgrimage is a popular way for lay-people to engage in Yamabushi practices and reconnect with nature in the sacred mountains of the Dewa Sanzan, even in wintertime. In our Experience, we facilitate your participation in this time-honoured, deeply spiritual tradition, with the interpretation and support of our Megurun team. If you are interested in deeper Yamabushi practices, please take a look at our Yamabushido programs in which we facilitate traditional ascetic training with Yamabushi masters. Due to the inaccessibility of the high mountains in the winter, Yamabushido Training programs are held only between the Spring and Autumn, so this Experience is a unique chance to spend time on the holy mountain in Winter.

Yamabushi trekking on Mt. Kinbo

Duration

6-8 hours (weather dependent)

Includes

Guidance from the Yamabushi of Daishinbo Pilgrim Lodge, Japanese to English interpreter, official shrine donation, and a unique, premium lunch of traditional, ascetic, Shojin Ryori cuisine. We will provide rental of “kanjiki”, traditional Japanese snowshoes, as well as waterproof boots (up to size 28cm), and a tsue pilgrimage walking stick.

Schedule

December to early April

Local Advice

The winter here in the mountains of Yamagata is cold and snowy. Please wear warm layers, a hat and gloves, and we would recommend you wear waterproof trousers and jacket. If you have your own appropriate footwear, or if you think our waterproof boots (up to size 28cm) may not fit you, please bring your own footwear, such as hiking boots or shoes, or gumboots, etc. Don’t forget a bottle of water for refreshment on the trek.

Minimum Participants

1

Guides

Kazuhiro Hayasaka

Language

English

Cancellations

The cancellation policy can be found here.

Health and Safety

Participants should be fit and able to walk without problems, to climb and descend moderate slopes and steps unaided. If you do not bring snow gear, you may not be allowed to participate – if you are not equipped you may endanger your health. Please note that in the case of very heavy snows or storms, this activity may be cancelled.

Meeting Spot

Getting Here

Transport is not included and the experience starts at Daishinbo Pilgrim lodge which can be accessed by bus from Tsuruoka Station. Get off at Sakura Koji stop, and Daishinbo is a short walk.

Meeting Spot

大進坊, Touge-95 Haguromachi Touge, Tsuruoka, Yamagata 997-0211, Japan

Finishing Spot

大進坊, Touge-95 Haguromachi Touge, Tsuruoka, Yamagata 997-0211, Japan

Prices

Group Size Price Per Person
Two ¥77,000
Three ¥57,000
Four ¥49,000
Five or more ¥45,000

Other Megurun Experiences

Yamabushido Programs 

Yamabushi Guided Pilgrimage on Mt. Haguro of the Dewa Sanzan

Trek with Yamabushi: Mount Haguro 

The Hidden Path of Zen at Yamadera 

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Yabase, Tsuruoka, Yamagata, Japan

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Megurun aims to support sustainable rural communities. To achieve these aims, we gained a travel agency license registered with the governor of Yamagata Prefecture: Region 282.