Discover the ancient rituals of the Yamabushi

Tracing back to the 8th century, the Three Sacred Mountains of Dewa are the oldest site of mountain worship in Japan.  Haguro Shugendo, a distinctive form of mountain asceticism was born here and for over a thousand years, practitioners of Shugendo have made pilgrimages from across Japan to these holy mountains to train their bodies, minds, and souls deep in the pristine nature of Yamagata.  

Those who follow this ancient religion are known as Yamabushi, mountain monks who have continue to follow these ancient practices to this day.  

Donning the same white robes that the dead are wrapped in, the Yamabushi monks begin their journey through the world of the present in the towering cedar forests of Mt. Haguro, death and the afterlife on the high peaks of Mt. Gassan, and rebirth at Mt. Yudono, the most holy site of the Three Sacred Mountains of Dewa. 

A journey to all three of these mountains is known as the Journey of Rebirth and has continued ever since these mountains were first opened over 1,400 years ago.

Yamabushi Training Programs

Experience a rare glimpse into the ancient rituals and lives of the Yamabushi through some of the special training programs that we have created and lead alongside the Yamabushi of the Dewasanzan Mountains.

 

The rituals of the Yamabushi have traditionally been shrouded in secrecy with chances to take part in their training only available during specific times of the year and predominately only for Japanese devotees.  

 

However, the Yamabushi have recently began to open up their traditions and training in the hope of promoting their teachings and philosophy to beyond their mountains. 

The Yamabushi here now accept participants to train alongside them in special programs available throughout the year and with varying levels of commitment.

On the intensive end, international participants with Japanese ability may apply to take part in the Akinomire Peak Ritual, a massive yearly pilgrimage where over 150 yamabushi train deep in the forests of Mt. Haguro for a full week.  During this time they are isolated without internet access, the ability to bathe, and must endure continuous intensive rituals  deep to purify their souls and come out of the mountains reborn.  

Short term training programs a few hours or days in length have also been developed here by the monks to help provide guests with a chance to experience their teachings and rituals without the heavy commitment of the Akinomire. 

See below for some of the Yamabushi programs that are currently available.  

These programs are made in collaboration with the monks of the Miyatabo lodge on Mt. Haguro as well as the Yamabushi of the Mt. Yudono Shrine.  

Note that these programs take place in Tsuruoka City.  This city can be reached by train by going to Tsuruoka Station. 

Mt. Kinbo Yamabushi

Venture deep into the rich forests and walk along the ancient trail that Yamabushi have used for training for centuries.  This program is led by Masato Konno, a Yamabushi of the Dewasanzan Mountains that leads training programs on this mountain. 

Yamabushi Training on Mt. Haguro

Spend the night at Miyatabo, the largest Yamabushi pilgrim lodge at the base of Mt. Haguro before waking up early in the morning to take part in a variety of rituals together with the Yamabushi of Mt. Haguro.  (Note that the reservation is made through Japan Travel)

Mt. Yudono Waterfall Training

Train with the Yamabushi of Mt. Yudono to take part in authentic waterfall training deep in the forests of this sacred mountain in this 5-6 hour program. 

Explore Mt. Haguro

Explore deep into the history and cuisine of the Yamabushi with a shirosozoku guide on Mt. Haguro.  This morning hike includes a shojin ryori meal, the traditional cuisine of the Yamabushi.

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