We take a bus to the nearby town of Koide, transferring to the Shinkansen (Bullet train) for our continuation north, following the picturesque Japan Sea coast for part of the way. Our destination is Dewa Sanzan (literally ‘three peaks of Dewa’), which refers to the three sacred peaks of Haguro-san, Gas-san, and Yudono-san. The lowest of the three, Haguro-san is spiritual home of the Shugendo sect, a mixture of the native Shinto belief and Buddhism. Mountain ascetics known as yamabushi can still be seen with their conch shells, used to call the spirits.
We will also visit Gyokusenji temple. Said to have been founded in 1251 by the Zen monk Ryonen Homyo Zenji. We will take a peaceful moment to enjoy the view of the garden while participating in the tea ceremony. From Gyokusenji we will head to a lovely Shukubo (pilgrims lodgings) where we stay tonight. Dinner is a meal of shojin-ryori, vegetarian Buddhist cuisine.
Walking distance: 2 miles / 3.2km
Elevation gain: ascending the steps to Haguro-san (if we stay in lodgings at the base of the mountain, we will walk on these steps tomorrow instead)
Time required: 1.5 hours