500px Photo ID: 51173684 -

Syuzo Tsushima / 500px


Top choice in Northern Honshū (Tōhoku)

The 2446 stone steps through ancient cedars to Haguro-san's summit (419m) have been smoothed by centuries of pilgrims. The climb, taking up to two hours, passes Gojū-no-tō (五重塔), a beautiful wooden five-storey pagoda dating from the 14th century. At the top marvel at the San-shin Gōsaiden (三神合祭殿), a vivid red hall that enshrines the deities of Dewa Sanzan's three mountains.

If you're completing the circuit, you must catch the bus from the parking lot beyond the shrine, bound for Hachigōme (八合目; eighth station), where the trail to the top of Gas-san picks up again. The last bus leaves just after 2pm. Most of the old 20km pilgrim trail along the ridge line to Gas-san became overgrown after a road was built in the 1960s.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Northern Honshū (Tōhoku) attractions

1. Chidō Museum

8.76 MILES

Founded in 1950 by the former Lord Shōnai in order to preserve local culture, this museum features Sakai-family artefacts, two Meiji-era buildings, a…

2. Gas-san-jinja

10.9 MILES

At the peak of Gas-san is the deeply spiritual Shintō shrine of Gassan-jinja. Before entering you must be 'purifed': bow to receive the priest's…

3. Gas-san

10.98 MILES

Accessible from July to September, Gas-san (1984m) is the highest of Dewa Sanzan's sacred mountains. From Hachigōme (八合目; eighth station) the route passes…

4. Yudono-san-jinja

11.08 MILES

Beyond the giant red torii of this shrine, ancient tradition (and stern-faced priests) forbids disclosure of what you witness. It's forbidden to…

5. Yudono-san

11.83 MILES

Accessible from May to October, Yudono-san (1504m) is the spiritual culmination of the Dewa Sanzan trek. Coming from Gas-san it's a short walk from the…

6. Zenpō-ji

12.48 MILES

Seven kilometres west of Tsuruoka is this Zen Buddhist temple, complete with five-tier pagoda and large gateway. It dates from the 10th century, when it…

7. Kamo Aquarium

14.4 MILES

The world's largest jellyfish tank – containing 30 to 40 species at any one time – was given a spark by a Nobel Prize–winning scientist who discovered a…

8. Historical Abumiya Residence

16.59 MILES

Opposite the city hall, this private home once belonged to a wealthy shipping agent. With a beautiful garden and a fascinating variety of room divisions…