The Three Peaks of Dewa, Yamagata
Ancient Mountains, Hidden Past
Pine needles and fallen leaves crunch underfoot as you walk. Your breath is labored, your hand gripping a walking stick with vigor. You tire, but you have never felt so alive and in the moment. You are learning the ways of a traditional ascetic monk as you resort to using your hands to climb up parts of a mountain trail led by men who know the path like an old friend.
You are in the old mountains of Dewa, walking where Japan’s first monks trekked over 1,400 years ago.
The Peaks of Dewa
This pilgrimage has been walked again and again for over a millennium. From the beginning, the three peaks of the Dewa Mountains were believed to represent birth, death, and rebirth. Hiking them would bring spiritual rebirth. This belief is held strongly even today, where a handful of monks—a dying breed in the modern age—still practice. Yet the monks continue to pass on their knowledge of the mountains as well as the spirit of nature to those willing to commit to self-discovery.
This revered mountain trio is praised for its five-story pagodas, its unique flowers and alpine plants, and a sacred repository believed to enshrine a god. But most importantly, the Dewa Mountains offer a journey. It is a journey of understanding your true potential, giving you the chance to let go of anything you wish to leave behind in the mountains, granting the opportunity of a new life marked by empowerment and resilience. It is a journey of rebirth.
The Way of the Monk
While exploring the mountains as an ascetic monk, you will dine like a monk, train like a monk, and meditate like a monk. This includes hiking the three sacred mountains, staying overnight in a pilgrim lodging packed with history, and eating light, vegan meals throughout your stay. As you don traditional monk garments and dedicate yourself to ancient practices such as waterfall meditation, these esoteric traditions will bring you closer to nature and closer to yourself.
The peaks of Dewa - and Yamagata Prefecture as a whole - remain off the radar for many tourists. This is truly a region that should be experienced for those who wish to see “real Japan” and lovers of nature. The Art of Travel is pleased to offer several unique Yamagata experiences in our Japan Custom Journeys.