NIHON-KOKU

にほんこく 

Sign on the Nakanomata Trail up Mt. Nihonkoku

日本国

How to conquer Japan in 60 short minutes

A brisk hike up Nihon-koku means that within 60 minutes, you too can claim to have conquered ‘The Country of Japan’. But how did this humble peak on the border of Niigata and Yamagata Prefectures come to be known as ‘The Country of Japan’? Read on to find out.

NIHON-KOKU

Mt. Nihonkoku, Nihonkoku, Nihongoku, Imakusa-yama

日本国にほんこく 

Nihon-koku (Mt. Nihonkoku, 日本国, にほんこく, にほんごく) is a 555m (1820 ft.) peak in the Shonai region of Yamagata prefecture best climbed from April to November. Nihon-koku is a level 1 in terms of physical demand, which means it is easy to hike, has a A technical grade, which means it requires little expertise, and you want to allow at least 2 hours for a climb.

Mountain Range

Nihon-koku (also possibly the Asahi Mountain Range)

Region

Shonai

Elevation

555

Technical Demand

1 (easiest)

Physical Demand

A (easiest)

Trails

3) Nakanomata Trail (2 hours return), Onabe Trail (2 hours return), Zaodo Trail (2 hours return)

Best time to climb

April to November

Day trip possible?

Yes

Minimum Time Required

2 hours return

The Shogun and The Falcon: How I conquered “Japan”: Nihon-koku (Mt. Nihonkoku)

Judging by the fact that North America has hundreds of names for snow due to the sheer variety and amount, a country covered in mountains should naturally have tons of names for mountains. And for Japan, that just so happens to be the case. Yama, with its on-yomi reading of San, Take or Dake, referring to more of a cliff face, and Mine, also read as ho or po that translates to the English peak.

However, Nihon-koku is a Koku, a country or state, and there are three prevalent theories as to why this peak on the border of Niigata and Yamagata came to be known as ‘the country of Japan’.

Why name a mountain a country?

Theory One: The Shogun and the Falcon

A sign explaining the origion of the name for Mt. Nihonkoku, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata
A plaque at the top of Nihon-koku explaining theories for its name

The first theory, and my favourite one, is that in the latter years of the Edo period (1603–1868), a famous hunter named Endo Taroji caught a remarkable falcon at the summit of Nihon-koku. After presenting the falcon to Tokugawa Ieharu, the tenth Tokugawa Shogun and de facto ruler of Japan at the time, the Shogun was so taken aback from the beauty of the falcon he said, ‘This falcon is unmatched on heaven and earth! This mountain, from where this amazing beast was caught, shall be known as Nihon-koku, the country of Japan, from here on out’. Well, it was my favourite.

Theory Two: The Founder of the Dewa Sanzan did it

The next theory as to how Nihon-koku became Nihon-koku is perhaps more convincing of a reason. I talked a bit about it in the article on Haguro-san, but according to legend, the Dewa Sanzan, the three mountains of Dewa, were declared a religious ground by Prince Hachiko way back in 593.

Prince Hachiko is said to have passed away on Haguro-san at the age of 53. Sometime late in his life, it was said that Prince Hachiko stood at the top of Nihon-koku and pointed in the direction of his birthplace, Asuka in Nara Prefecture. Here, the prince declared ‘from this point south is Nihon-koku, the country of Japan!’ Hence the mountain was named as such.

Theory Three: The Border Between Yamato and the Emishi Tribes of the North

Linfamy explains just who the Emishi were in this hilarious video

The third, and seemingly more plausible explanation, is that after Prince Hachiko passed away, there was the Taika Reform of 645 enacted by the Yamato Imperial Court. The Yamato had established palisades in a strategic position called the Iwafune-no-ki (the Iwafune Pallisades), located in the region of Iwafune in Murakami City, Niigata Prefecture.

At that time, Yamato Japan was ruled from Asuka, Nara Prefecture, where Prince Hachiko had come from. It just so happened that anywhere north of Nihon-koku was not officially part of Yamato Japan. Rather, the other side of the border was controlled by tribes of Emishi, also known as Ezo, native Japanese who inhabited the Japanese archipelago long before the Yayoi Japanese arrived from the mainland.

The Yamato had been trying to lay claim to both sides of Nihon-koku even as far back as 250AD. However, it wasn’t until the Heian Period (794 to 1185) that they expelled the “Barbarian” Emishi, and the northern part of Honshu officially became the Japan we know and love. Nihon-koku lay along the border, and since it was a part of Japan, it was named as such.

Do you get something if you ‘conquer Japan’?

The view from the top of Mt. Nihonkoku, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata
The view from the top of Nihon-koku looking north towards The Sea of Japan

In the past, flags were given out to people who summited Nihon-koku that read ‘I conquered Japan’. In 2013, they wanted to recreate the ‘I conquered Japan’ thing with certificates, but there was some resistance to the term ‘conquer’, and it was replaced with a ‘I reached the summit’ certificate. So, while you may not be able to get the right certificate, you at least get to claim to have conquered Japan if you climb this summit.

From the summit of Nihon-koku, we can see the Sea of Japan, Awashima and Sado Islands, Mt. Chokai to the north, and Mt. Gassan and the Asahi Mountain Range to the east, and while mysteries (may) remain as to the naming of this peak, we do know that Nihon-koku was used for centuries by mariners as a landmark for where to make their landing. Nihon-koku does also have another name, Imakusayama written 石鉢山.

Mt. Nihon-koku Climbing Season

Blowing the Horagai Shugendo Yamabushi Conch at the top of Mt. Nihonkoku, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata
Blowing the Horagai Conch while facing south from the summit of Nihon-koku near the Omata trailhead

Nihon-koku is located in snow country, so isn’t open year-round. The official opening date for climbing each year coincides with its height; the fifth day of the fifth month, but you can climb it from as early as April. The mountain closes officially when the snow falls, usually mid-November. At a guess it would still be possible to snowshoe through the cedar forest on Nihon-koku, although it is very steep indeed.

There are five mountains along the Shonai coast that are comparable in size and stature to Nihon-koku, that I would suggest also have a similar best time to climb; Takadate-yama, Arakura-yama, Kumanonaga-mine, Fujikura-yama, and lastly Atsumi-dake, also have extensive beech forests that are wonderful to explore, especially during the late spring when the greenery is out, and when the autumn leaves are on show. Of these, probably the best to explore in terms of things to see and the amount of challenge would be Mt. Atsumi, with the mountain Sakura of Arakura-yama a close second.

Trailheads up Nihon-koku

There are three main trails up Nihon-koku; the Nakanomata trail from Tsuruoka City, Yamagata, to the north, and the Omata and Zaodo trails from Murakami City in Niigata prefecture to the south.

Nakanomata Trail up Nihon-koku (2 hours return)

A broken sign at the Nakanomata Trailhead up Mt. Nihonkoku, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata
Sign at the start of the Nakanomata Trailhead up Nihon-koku

If you’re coming from the Yamagata side, you’ll want to hit up the Nakanomata Trail, and getting there is truly half the adventure. The Nakanomata Trail begins in a small hamlet called Onabe, a quaint hamlet deep in the mountains behind Nezugaseki, the southernmost township along the western Shonai coast of Tsuruoka City.

To get to Onabe from central Tsuruoka, you can either take the scenic route along the Sea of Japan, or the scenic route through the dozens of tiny farming villages. We opted to drive along the Sea of Japan on the way there, and to take the farming village route on the way back. If you’re a fan of rural Japan, you’ll probably want to take this route.

Getting to the Nakanomata Trailhead of Nihon-koku

A clearing in the middle of a cedar forest at the mid-point up Mt. Nihonkoku, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata
The Fifth Station on Nihon-koku. Typically the Fifth Station is the half-way point up a mountain in Japan, but this is not always the case.

From Onabe, take the road heading south towards Niigata Prefecture for about 1km. On the right-hand side you will see a split in the road with a gravel path through a forest that leads to the trailhead (with signs). If it’s been raining, be careful, this path is probably best suited to 4WD cars. It is also be possible to park here and walk if you need to.

About 500m down the forest path there is a car park for 3 cars, and the trailhead. The sign had fallen off the post and just lay on the ground, but it was still there. You’ll see a path that heads into the mountain on the left-hand side where a whole lot of trees have been felled. Keep following this path and take a left.

A cedar forest on Mt. Nihonkoku, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata in Tohoku, north Japan
The cedar forests of the Nakanomata Trail up Nihon-koku

The path will take you into the cedar forest with tons of switchbacks and a steep incline. Thankfully, there is only one path, so it is easy to follow, but it is quite steep, so it takes a lot out of you. Make sure you have correct footwear as the trail can be slippery in parts, even when dry.

The Nakanomata Trail takes you through a cedar forest that changes to beech closer to the summit, and in retrospect isn’t actually that long. It took us less than an hour to get up the path that the Yamagata website said would take 90minutes.

The Omata Trail up Nihon-koku (2 hours return)

A mountain hut at the summit of a mountain surrounded by fresh green leaves of beech trees on Mt. Nihonkoku, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata in Tohoku, north Japan
The hut at the top of Nihon-koku. Here there is a logbook for climbers and a lot of information about the place

The Omata Trail is one of two trails up Nihon-koku that begins on the Niigata Prefecture side in the hamlet of Omata in Murakami City. The trailhead is on the opposite side of the road from the Nihonkoku Fureai Park. The Omata trail is recognised as one of Niigata’s long-distance nature paths, and is an easy stroll up a slight incline through a bright forest.

Along the way, there is a ridge from which you can see the Sea of Japan, and from the Janoge ridge, the point of where the Omata trail meets the Zaodo Trail, you can see the Asahi Mountain Range in the distance, and the Nakanomata and Omata hamlets at the base of the mountain. From the Janoge ridge, the path goes down slightly, and after that there is an incline of about 100m to the summit.

Zaodo Trail up Nihon-koku (2 hours return)

The Asahi Mountain Range viewed through a canopy of green leaves from Mt. Nihonkoku, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata in Tohoku, north Japan
View over the Asahi Mountain Range to the east of Nihon-koku

Heading south from the Omata hamlet along the former Dewa Kaido path, the path to the Dewa Sanzan, you will find the Zaodo trailhead. The trail starts with a slight incline amongst a cedar forest, and passes the Zaodo (Zao Hall). The climb is tough in parts through a steep incline amongst the camellia trees, but once you’re through here there is a hut at the Janoge ridge from where you can take a rest as you enjoy the view. This is where the Zaodo and Omata trails meet. There is a downhill trail of about 1km connecting the Zaodo and Omata trails, so you can enjoy both trails quite easily.

Nihon-koku in conclusion

A mountain hut located at the summit of Mt. Nihonkoku, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata in Tohoku, north Japan
The summit of Nihon-koku where the world’s most amazing falcon was purportedly caught

Nihon-koku is a brisk hike whichever trail you choose to tackle. Nihon-koku makes a great spot for some trail running, as the incline definitely gets your heart rate up but it isn’t a huge mountain by any stretch of the term. At the top there are a few clearings with benches from where the view over the Sea of Japan or the surrounding mountains is quite spectacular, making Nihon-koku a pretty good spot for a picnic as well. I think it’s worth climbing this mountain just to say you’ve conquered Japan.

Nearby Locations of Interest

Atsumi-dake and Atsumi Onsen

The Zen garden of Tachibanaya Ryokan in Atsumi Onsen covered in snow. This onsen is near Mt. Nihonkoku, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata in Tohoku, north Japan
The gardens of Tachibanaya Ryokan in Atsumi Onsen during the winter

Located near Nihon-koku is the quaint hot spring town of Atsumi Onsen, in fact it is so close we went through Atsumi Onsen to get to there. Atsumi-dake is one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata and is located in the north of this hot spring town. As one of Tsuruoka City’s three Onsen towns (the other two being Yutagawa, and Yunohama), Atsumi Onsen is one of the coolest places in the Shonai region.

Located at the southern end of Tsuruoka, with only Nezugaseki further south, Atsumi Onsen is a great spot for a walk amongst the Sakura in spring, or a visit to the rose garden in June. While you’re there though, if you’re not staying at Tachibanaya with their awesome onsen, do be sure to check out Chitto Mocche, a locally-run cafe that is famous for its outdoor foot baths.

The Mountain Village of Yamairagawa

The Nakanomata Trail goes through the deep cedar forests of Mt. Nihonkoku, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata in Tohoku, north Japan
The deep cedar forests of Nihon-koku. Man-made forests like this are quite common across this part of Japan, and are a great place to escape to

Yamairagawa is a small hamlet of only around 600 residents tucked in the mountains behind Atsumi onsen that apparently dates back to the Nara period. Famous for its Kabuki performances said to date back to the 1700s, including one famous performance for the Sokushinbutsu Tetsumonkai Shonin in thanks for helping the region avoid the plague. There has been a Kabuki competition since 1827 between the people of Warabino Village to the north and Sanemata Village to the south. Yamairagawa Kabuki and Yamato Noh are both performed in the area. Kabuki is a form of entertainment for the people, and Noh is always dedicated to the Kami gods.

The Port Town of Nezugaseki

A lighthouse on the edge of a craggy rock in Nezugaseki, a tiny fishing village along the Sea of Japan near Mt. Nihonkoku, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata in Tohoku, north Japan

Nezugaseki is the town at the southernmost point of Tsuruoka City’s Shonai coast, and was once one of the main checkpoints into the Ou region (the other two were in Shirakawa and Nakosonoseki). According to local legend, Nezugaseki was the checkpoint where the events of the famous Kabuki play Kanjincho took place. The tiny fishing village of Nezugaseki has a few peculiarities worth checking out, such as Itsukushima Shrine, the Nenjunomatsu Garden, and Asahiya Sushi Restaurant.

Itsukushima Shrine and the Lighthouse of Nezugaseki

A Japanese shrine with Komainu dog statues guarding the entrance in Nezugaseki near Mt. Nihonkoku, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata in Tohoku, north Japan

Itsukushima Shrine isn’t that grand, but it has many cool statues and artefacts and juts out on the coast where there is a pretty cool lighthouse to explore.

Nenjunomatsu Garden

A long tree that grows sideways inside a Zen garden with freshly manicured stone landscape in Nezugaseki, a small fishing village on the Sea of Japan near Mt. Nihonkoku, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata in Tohoku, north Japan
The Nenjunomatsu Garden in Nezugaseki near Nihon-koku. That is all one very long pine tree.

Nearby, there is a traditional Japanese garden called the Nenjunomatsu Garden, home to a very special 400-year-old Bonsai tree called the Nenjunomatsu (lit. the Buddhist Rosary Pine). What makes the Nenjunomatsu pine tree special is that it is less than 4m tall, but has one branch that stretches out 20m to the east. The diameter of the main trunk is 1.16m, but the one branch that sticks out has a diameter of 1.3m.

This is because the Nenjunomatsu Garden is actually the garden of a 400-year-old former Ryokan called Murakamiya that went out of business in 1960, but the garden and Bonsai were felt to be too special to destroy. The owner of the Ryokan requested the bonsai pine be a Garyu, a pine shaped like a dragon. The Nenjunomatsu is one of only 10 such Garyu in Japan, however none of them have a branch that reaches this length.

The Nenjunomatsu was registered as a natural monument of Yamagata prefecture on August 1, 1955, and the whole garden was redesigned by world-famous landscape architect Ken Nakajima in 1994.

Asahiya Sushi Restaurant

A sushi master smiles as he prepares fresh sushi for us at Asahiya Sushi Restaurant in Nezugaseki near Mt. Nihonkoku, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata in Tohoku, north Japan
The eccentric chef Sato of Asahiya, Nezugaseki’s most famous sushi restaurant

Nezugaseki is also home to one of my favourite sushi restaurants, Asahiya. Asahiya is owned by an eccentric sushi chef, one of the craziest guys I know who even hosts sushi parties on top of Maya-san, and who was enamoured by one of the Sokushinbutsu of Mt. Yudono, Tetsumonkai Shonin, and even has many of the actual tools used by Tetsumonkai Shonin as he trained to reach enlightenment in this current world. If you have a Japanese speaker, definitely take the time to listen to the chef’s speech if you can.

Murakami City

Murakami City has a done a great job in recent years preserving the olden-style cityscape with gorgeous traditional buildings. I’ve only been there once, but I knew I definitely wanted to come back. Murakami is famous for its dried salmon, you’ll find a few shops along the main street that are just full of salmon hanging from the ceiling. It’s great for lovers of the popular fish, but not so for those who get grossed out easily.

While not in Murakami, my wife and I had a really good time at Cafe Dal in Tainai City about 25 minutes away. Again we only went there once, but I remember thinking it was definitely visiting again.

MOUNTAINS OF WISDOM

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SELECTED PEAKS

Exploring The Yamabushi Trails of Kinbo-zan (Mt. Kinbo)
100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata
Kashiwagi-yama
Mt. Shogadake
Dancing in the Dawn Lilies: Shoga-dake and The Fuji of The North

MOUNTAINS OF WISDOM PEAKS

KINBO-ZAN

金峯山

きんぼうざん

Exploring The Yamabushi Trails of Kinbo-zan (Mt. Kinbo)

Kinbo-zan is a dynamic little peak with a deep history of Shugendo.

Yura in Tsuruoka city seen from Mt. Arakura

ARAKURA-YAMA

荒倉山

あらくらやま

Mountains of Sakura: Arakura-yama (Mt. Arakura)

Mountains of Sakura Cherry Blossoms and the amazing Arakura Shrine await.

Mt.-Takadate-and-Shimoike-lake-in-Tsuruoka

TAKADATE-YAMA

高館山

たかだてやま

Whetting your appetite for Wetlands on Takadate-yama (Mt. Takadate)

Takadate-yama is short in stature, but packs a lot of punch as home to one of the only RAMSAR wetlands in Japan

The sun sets over the ninth station of Mt. Gassan

GASSAN

月山

がっさん

Gassan, the Dewa Sanzan’s “Mountain of Death” (Mt. Gassan)

The tallest Dewa Sanzan peak with a thriving Haguro Shugendo Yamabushi culture.

Mt. Haguro's Five Story Pagoda

HAGURO-SAN

羽黒山

はぐろさん

The Dewa Sanzan’s Haguro-san (Mt. Haguro)

Home to Haguro Shugendo and the Dewa Sanzan Yamabushi mountain monks

Sign on the Nakanomata Trail up Mt. Nihonkoku

NIHON-KOKU

日本国

にほんこく

The Shogun and The Falcon: How I conquered “Japan”: Nihon-koku (Mt. Nihonkoku)

How to conquer Japan in 60 short minutes

KUMANONAGA-MINE

熊野長峰

くまのながみね

Bananas and Cokes, Leaches and Pit Vipers: Kumanonaga-mine

How a group of elderly Japanese men saved our arses

Mt. Shogadake

SHOGA-DAKE

笙ガ岳

しょうがだけ

Dancing in the Dawn Lilies: Shoga-dake and The Fuji of The North

Shoga-dake is a former Shugendo peak on Chokai-zan famous for its floral brilliance.

Mt. Atsumi in Atsumi Onsen, a quaint Onsen Hot Spring town in Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture

ATSUMI-DAKE

温海岳

あつみだけ

Reaching Peak Tranquility: Atsumi-dake (Mt. Atsumi)

The hidden Onsen (Hot Spring) town of Atsumi’s own hidden gem

A Jizo statue at the top of Mt. Kyogakura in Sakata

MT. KYOGAKURA

経ヶ蔵山

きょうがくらさん

Womb Passes and Monkey Crossings: Kyogakura-san “The Shugendo Peak of Sutras”

And how the Japanese language got three alphabets

Sanze village near Mt. Fujikura surrounded by green mountains and the blue Sea of Japan can be seen through the trees in the distance through the trees of Mt. Fujikura

FUJIKURA-YAMA

藤倉山

ふじくらやま

Sanze’s Little Helper: Fantastic Fujikura-yama

Fun little peak in the tiny fishing village of Sanze, Tsuruoka City

Mt. Maya seen from the distance

MT. MAYA

摩耶山

まやさん

Mythical Beasts, Buddha’s Mother, and buried Yamabushi treasure? Welcome to Maya-san (Mt. Maya).

More than one of the best hikes in Shonai

Mt. Ubagatake in autumn

MT. UBAGATAKE

姥ヶ岳

うばがたけ

The Widow’s Peak: Ubaga-take (Mt. Ubagatake) of North Japan

Must-see autumn alpine dreamland between the two tallest Dewa Sanzan peaks with a twisted backstory

The Autumn Leaves of Mount Taizo

MT. TAIZO

胎蔵山

たいぞうさん

The Epitome of Autumn Leaves in North Japan: Taizo-san (Mt. Taizo)

Mount Taizo all but single-handedly confirms why autumn is by far the best season for hiking in Japan.

HOKARI-YAMA

母狩山

ほかりやま

Mother. Hunter. Mountain. Hokari-yama (Mt. Hokari)

Kinbo Shugen Mountain with a strange name and amazing trails amongst the autumn leaves

Mt. Chokai seen from Mt. Yonetaihei in the winter

YONETAIHEI-ZAN

米太平山

よねたいへいざん

Homer Simpson’s Heaven in North Japan: The Donut-shaped Yonetaihei-san (Mt. Yonetaihei)

Tiny donut-shaped peak in Sakegawa Village of the Mogami region worthy of a snowshoe hike.

Mt. Yudono Shrine Gates during the autumn

YUDONO-SAN

湯殿山

ゆどのさん

The Dewa Sanzan’s Mountain of Rebirth: Yudono-san (Mt. Yudono)

Yudono-san is the final Dewa Sanzan peak in the middle of Yamagata Prefecture that has been a central destination for millions over the centuries

TSUCHIYU-YAMA

土湯山

つちゆやま

Abandoned Ski Field and Phantom Forest of Tsuchiyu-yama (Mt. Tsuchiyu)

Short and quick hike with views of Chokai-zan and near the Mogami River, Shiraito Falls, and Genso no mori, the Forest of Illusions.

Mt. Yamuki (Yamuki-yama) in Shinjo City

YAMUKI-YAMA

八向山

やむきやま

The Medieval Castle and Mighty River of Yamuki-yama (Mt. Yamuki)

Tiny peak that was home to a medieval castle along the banks of the mighty Mogami River.

KITA-YAMA

北山

きたやま

Panoramas and picnics under the Sakura: Kita-yama (Mt. Kitayama)

Former ski field turned into a Sakura-lover’s paradise on the outskirts of Murayama City

KAMEWARI-YAMA

亀割山

かめわりやま

Turtles, Tigers, and a Legendary Japanese Character: Kamewari-yama

Legendary location next to a quaint Onsen (hot spring) resort along the Oguni River in Mogami Town

YOZO-SAN

与蔵山

よぞうさん

Yozo-san: White Snakes, White Monkeys and slimy salamanders

Ancient trail of primeval beech forests, legendary swamp monsters, waterfalls, snow bridges, and more.

YAKUSHI-SAN

薬師山

やくしさん

The Pyramids of… Japan? — Yakushi-san and The OG Japan content creator

Small pyramidal peak in the northern Yamagata town of Kaneyama

ZAO-SAN

蔵王山

ざおうさん

Zao-san and Why We Climb Mountains

Zao-san: Snow monsters, ski fields, mountain hags, multi-coloured crater lakes, hot springs, and more.

OKINA-SAN

翁山

おきなさん

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

 Legends and landscapes on an epic hike along the Ou Mountains

MOUNTAIN PREVIEWS

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

KAMURO-SAN

神室山

かむろさん

Kamuro-san in the Mogami Region of Yamagata Prefecture

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

YUNOSAWA-DAKE

湯ノ沢岳

ゆのさわだけ

Kinbo Shugen mountain with great views of Gassan, Chokai-zan, and the Asahi Alps.

Chokai-zan

CHOKAI-ZAN

鳥海山

ちょうかいざん

Tallest peak entirely in Tohoku often said to resemble Mt. Fuji, leading to the name Dewa Fuji (after the former province of Dewa).

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

TODONO-SAN

頭殿山

とうどのさん

Mountain on the borders of Shirataka and Asahi Towns. Part of an ancient path to Yudono-san.

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

KAGIKAKE-MORI

鉤掛森

かぎかけもり

Named after a hook hung over a tree at the summit for good luck, Kagikake-mori is a great spot for a hike amongst the beech forest.

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

MOKUZO-YAMA

杢蔵山

もくぞうやま

Mountain that marks the entrance to the Kamuro Alps

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

HACHIMORI-YAMA

八森山

はちもりやま

Peak along the Kamuro Alps home to legendary Tengu

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

RYUBA-SAN

竜馬山

りゅうばさん

Mountain in Kaneyama Town with a distinctive precarious cliff face.

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

HIUCHI-DAKE

火打岳

ひうちだけ

Peak along the Kamuro Renpo (Kamuro Alps) offering great views

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

FUTATSU-MORI

二ツ森

ふたつもり

Twin-peaked mountain in Obanazawa City with a cool waterfall and great views.

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

KOMATA-YAMA

小又山

こまたやま

Tallest peak on the Kamuro Renpo (Kamuro Alps) by a whisker with striking peaks and valleys.

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

KASHIWAGI-YAMA

柏木山

かしわぎやま

Lowest mountain on the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata List on Tobishima Island in Sakata City.

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

JIZOMORI-YAMA

地蔵盛山

じぞうもりやま

Mountain near Hijiori Onsen with an amazing shrine on a precarious cliff-face overlooking Gassan.

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

SABANE-YAMA

猿羽根山

さばねやま

Mountain on the borders of Funagata Town and Obanazawa City in the Mogami and Murayama regions in Yamagata respectfully that was historically a difficult mountain pass.

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

OASAHI-DAKE

大朝日岳

おおあさひだけ

One of the 100 Famous Mountains of Japan along the borders of the Okitama, Murayama, and Shonai regions of Yamagata.

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

SHOJIGA-TAKE

障子ヶ岳

しょうじがたけ

Mountain along the Asahi Renpo famous for its rockface reminiscent of Japanese paper screens (Shoji).

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

KABU-YAMA

加無山

かぶやま

Twin-peaked mountain within a forest park that is home to many ancient trees and bird of prey nests.

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

KAMURO-DAKE

禿岳

かむろだけ

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

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

KOSHIKI-YAMA

甑山

こしきやま

Twin-peaked mountain entirely in the Kabu-yama Prefectural Nature Park in Mamurogawa Town near the border of Akita Prefecture.

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

ITO-DAKE

以東岳

いとうだけ

One of the main peaks famous as a starting and ending point for traverses along the Asahi Renpo, fields of alpine flowers, and the legendary Takitaro, a giant fish inhabiting the Otori-ike (lake).

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

TENGUSUMOTORI-YAMA

天狗角力取山

てんぐすもうとりやま

Peak on the borders of Tsuruoka City and Nishikawa Town at the edge of the Asahi Renpo known for sumo-wrestling Tengu.

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

OTAKANE-YAMA

大高根山

おおたかねやま

Mountain straddling the borders of Oishida Town and Murayama City that is a great place for taking in the mountain cherry blossoms in Spring, and for a general bush walk.

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

TARUISHI-YAMA

樽石山

たるいしやま

Mountain off Murayama Hayama famous for white snake falls, Itaya water springs, and more.

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

(MURAYAMA) TENGU-YAMA

村山 天狗山

むらやま てんぐやま

(Murayama) Tengu-yama is a 403-m high peak in Nishikawa town that is home to a Tengu, a yokai or supernatural being.

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

DAIZUMORI-YAMA

大頭森山

だいずもりやま

Daizumori-yama is a mountain in Oe Town on the edge of the Asahi Renpo (Mountain Range) famous for its flora and fauna.

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata

MURAYAMA HAYAMA

村山葉山

むらやま はやま

Former Dewa Sanzan peak in inland Yamagata Prefecture with an extensive Shugendo and Mountain Worship history.

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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