TIM BUNTING

KIWI YAMABUSHI

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KOSHIKI-DAKE (Mt. Koshikidake)

こしきだけ 

甑岳

Mountain in Murayama City that is an active Shugendo peak loved by many.

Mountain in Murayama City that is an active Shugendo peak loved by many.

KOSHIKI-DAKE

Mt. Koshikidake, Koshikidake, Mt. Koshiki

甑岳こしきだけ 

Koshiki-dake (甑岳こしきだけ) is a 1016m (3333 ft.) peak in the Murayama region of Yamagata prefecture best climbed from June to October. Koshiki-dake is a level 3 in terms of physical demand, which means it is moderate to hike, has a A technical grade, which means it requires little expertise, and you want to allow at least 5 hours for a climb.

Mountain Range

Ou Mountains

Region

Murayama

Elevation

1016m (3333 ft.)

Technical Demand

A (requires little expertise)

Physical Demand

3 (relatively demanding)

Trails

Four. 1) Makui Trail (5.5 hours return), 2) Niiyama Trail (5 hours return), 3) Iwagami Trail (7 hours 20 return), 4) Hachika-sawa Trail (5 hours return)

Best time to climb

June to October

Day trip possible?

Yes

Minimum Time Required

5 hours return

KOSHIKI-DAKE

Lying to the east of Murayama City, Koshiki-dake (not to be confused with Koshiki-yama in Mamurogawa) is one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Tohoku, and only just rises above 1,000m. The lone pyramidal peak of Koshiki-dake is one of the distinct parts of the Ou mountain range, reminiscent of the eroded remains of a once underwater volcano.

The name Koshiki-dake refers to the mountain’s resemblance to a Koshiki, a steaming basket used for cooking rice brought over to Japan from ancient China. The mountain boasts deeply eroded valleys, and some slopes of the mountain rise up at an angle of more than 30 degrees. The varied facets of nature to be seen on Koshiki-dake have led it to become a popular peak for mountain worship since ancient times.

Makui Trail (5.5 hours return)

The Makui Trail is the most used route up Koshiki-dake that starts in the Tateoka region in the centre of Murayama City. Heading towards the Higashizawa Rose Garden from Murayama Station, follow the signs to the right, and go along the forest road. There is a lumberyard at the end of this forest road that marks the trailhead.

After crossing the bridge, you will come across a fresh water source, the Umatate-numa pond, and a chestnut forest. The trail takes you up a ridge from where it meets the Iwagami Trail. Then, just in front of where the trail meets the Niiyama trail, there is a rest area that offers outstanding views. From here, the summit is only about 10 minutes away, but unfortunately there is no lookout since it is covered in beech trees.

Niiyama Trail (5 hours return)

The Niiyama Trail is the shortest trail to the summit and starts in the Niiyama area of Murayama City. Once through the Niiyama hamlet, head towards the forest road by taking a right at the stone torii gates. The trailhead is at the end of the forest road at a small shrine called “Yama no Kami”. Keep following the trail and when you pass the water trough, there is junction to a lookout from where you can see the whole of Murayama City. This part is only 50m from the main trail, so is a great place to stop for a rest. After this, there is a cave, the remains of a mine, and a tainai kuguri (womb pass) used during yamabushi training, and the path then meets with the Makui and Iwagami trails.

Iwagami Trail (7 hours 20 return)

The Iwagami Trail is the longest route to the summit, but it goes past the Komatsuzawa Kan’on temple and feels like you are traversing the mountain rather than climbing it. This trail was also the traditional trail to the summit. Heading straight through the forest road towards the Makui Trailhead, go along the Yama no Kami Shotoku Taishi Sonsando. Then, cross the mountain stream and take a right to get to the trailhead. The trail then takes you via its namesake, Iwagami-yama (Mt. Iwagami), and Ohira-yama to then link with the Hachika-sawa and Makui Trails.

Hachika-sawa Trail (5 hours return)

The Hachika-sawa Trail begins to the south in Higashine City. Heading towards the Ichinosawa-ike pond of the Nittogawa river, follow the signs along the unpaved forest road. The trailhead is right before the Kinokoen mountain hut where the signs are. Keep following the path up the Ichi-no-saka slope, and just past the remains of the Hachika Sanso (mountain lodge) the trail gets steeper (from the Ni-no-saka to Nana-no-saka slopes) until it converges with the Iwagami trail and continues on to the summit.

Nearby locations worth visiting 

Ginzan Onsen

Ginzan Onsen located in Obanazawa City is one of the most well-known parts of Yamagata Prefecture. Famous for its Ryokan along a river that looks like they came straight out of a Ghibli film, Ginzan Onsen is an excellent location to relax after a few hours on the mountains of Yamagata. 

Switch on coffee

One day I was passing through Obanazawa on my way home from Sendai and I found this awesome little cafe had only recently opened. They had amazing cheesecakes, and their selection of beans was something special. 

Odo-Mori

Odo-mori (御堂森おどうもり) is a 1057m (3467 ft.) peak in the Murayama region of Yamagata prefecture best climbed from May to October. Odo-mori is a level 3 in terms of physical demand, which means it is moderate to hike, has a A technical grade, which means it requires little expertise, and you want to allow at least 6 hours for a climb.

Ohira-yama

Ohira-yama (大平山おおひらやま) is a 814m (2670 ft.) peak in the Murayama region of Yamagata prefecture best hiked from late May to early November. Ohira-yama is a level 1 in terms of physical demand, which means it is easy to hike, has an A technical grade, which means it requires little expertise, and you want to allow at least 3 hours for a climb.

Gosho-zan

Also known as Funagata-yama, Gosho-zan is a mountain on the borders of Yamagata and Miyagi Prefectures that is the main peak of the Gosho-zan mountain range.

Kita-yama

Kita-yama is the perfect spot for a picnic amongst the Sakura that offers panoramic views over the rice fields and mountains of inland Yamagata Prefecture.

Kamuro-dake 

Kamuro-dake is a Mountain on the edge of a caldera on the borders of Mogami Town and the Onikobe part of Naruko Onsen, Miyagi Prefecture.

Futatsu-mori 

Futatsu-mori is a distinctive twin-peaked mountain in Obanazawa City near the border with Miyagi Prefecture.

Venerable Old Man Mountain — The Mist and Mystery of Okina-san

Okina-san with its summit shrouded in mist.
Okina-san with its summit shrouded in mist. This turned out to be a godsend, however.

Lying along The Ou Mountains, Japan’s longest mountain range stretching over 500km across the length of the Tohoku Region, the landscapes and legends of Okina-san make this 1075m (3526 ft.) peak not only a 100 Famous Mountain of Yamagata, but also one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Tohoku.

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About the author

Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

TIM BUNTING – KIWI YAMABUSHI

OFFICIAL DEWA SANZAN YAMABUSHI NAME:

RYOSEN – SPREADER OF TRUTH

Hi, I’m Tim Bunting AKA the Kiwi Yamabushi, a New Zealander who became a Yamabushi Ascetic in the Dewa Sanzan mountains of north Japan. I’m part of the Yamabushido team, and we host life-altering Yamabushi training on the Dewa Sanzan (website I made). People come to us for the ultimate mindfulness experience, to reach the next level, or simply connect with nature and themselves.

I’m on a mission to summit all 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata Prefecture to spread the splendour of this fabulous location, and in dedication to all those who lost their lives out in nature, including my father.

Sign up for the Mountains of Wisdom mailer for updates, follow me on social (IG, FB, YT, Twitter, TikTok, CR, all @kiwiyamabushi), or send me an email to get in touch.

Tim.

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