Sunday, September 18, 2011
I signed up to climb Mount Gassan (月山) along with some people from my office. I guess you can loosely translate the name as "Moon Mountain." It's about a four hour drive from my apartment. Located in Yamagata Prefecture in the Tohoku Region of Japan, Gassan is the tallest of the Three Mountains of Dewa (出羽三山).
These mountains have a rich history dating back 1400 years, to the time of the 32nd Emperor of Japan, Sushun-tenno (崇峻天皇). Since then, the mountains have existed as a center of ascetic religious beliefs. Throughout history, many people have chosen to undertake pilgrimmages to these mountains in the pursuit of religious enlightenment.
Each of the three mountains has a special significance. Mount Haguro (羽黒) is the smallest of the three mountains, but is accessible throughout the year and contains one of Japan's national treasures, a five-story pagoda. Mount Yudono (湯殿) is considered the most holy of the three mountains, and much of it is worshipped as hallowed ground. Gassan, in addition to being the tallest, is also home to a variety of rare plants. I'll try to take some good pictures for all of you.