TIM BUNTING

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Mt. Takadate

The first part of the climb up Mt. Takadate was around the Shimoike lake, before you head up into the forest along the Iwakura route that takes you to a road that takes you to the summit. This part of the trail is uneventful, although there are some memorable parts with some glorious trees, and cool wooden bridge type things that are all overgrown.

Once we got to the top though, if I’m honest I was a bit underwhelmed. It’s just a clearing with a pagoda and a whole lot of cell towers. Except, there’s also this old lookout that you can climb up, and once you do, you get 360° views of the ocean, the surrounding mountains, Sakata city, Mt. Chokai, Mt. Gassan, Tsuruoka, it was quite a sight to see.

So at that point I thought I had met the highlight of the mountain. Turns out I was wrong. We headed back the way we came, to the start of the Iwakura trail, but then we went down the road a little bit further until we got to where the path goes up to Mt. Hachimoriyama, a smaller but really cool peak.

The path to the summit was quite long, longer than I had expected, and once we got there, we stopped for some prayers as apparently you get some really good views of Mt. Gassan from there when all the trees are bare in late autumn.

For the first time ever I prayed with my Yamabushi partner Tak, and it felt extremely humbling. Right in the middle of the forest with the birds calling in all directions, that was really cool. I can see why Sendatsu always says it’s the prayers that make the difference when you’re out in nature.

After heading further down the mountain, through the trees we could see another mountain in the distance. Eventually we came out of the forest and what a sight. We could see Mt. Gassan clear as day in the distance and the rice fields and houses in the foreground we really quaint. Then we kept going until we also saw Mt. Chokai in the distance. Seems like we had timed it perfectly.

We returned to our car by going on the path that runs along the Shimoike lake, Mt. Takadate gently looking over us.

Altogether, it took us about 3 hours, just as it said on the yamagatayama website. I think I have to come back here in the autumn now. I’ve seen the autumn leaves here before, but didn’t go into the mountains at that time. Next time I hope I can see Mt. Gassan 🙂

This path was shorter than Mt. Kinbo from Shoryuji, and shorter than Mt. Arakura, but probably similar to Mt. Kinbo from the Yutagawa entrance. This means that it’s great for an afternoon or morning hike, but you’d struggle to make a day of it (unless you combined it with a picnic or something).

Overall I’m really glad that we got to climb, but I think the experience would have been different if the weather wasn’t so good. You spend 95% of the time in the forest, and then the top is quite unremarkable, but this probably makes it really good for Shintinyoku if that’s what you’re into 🙂 defs worth a visit.

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Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 

tim@timbunting.com

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