Why I love the mountains of Yamagata

I was asked what exactly it was I loved about the mountains of Yamagata. When I first started the project, I thought the mountains would all be like the 100 Famous Mountain of Japan, Gassan, essentially an alpine environment. I’ve since found that the majority are more like the much smaller but perhaps more culturally significant Haguro.

And that’s a good thing.

I feel like an adventurer discovering new territory, and I sort of am one. A lot of the information in Japanese on the Yamagatayama website is quite sparse, and I make a point of going the extra mile and doing my own research. The things I have discovered are quite remarkable, if I may say so myself.

Who would have thought that there would be a mountain on the outskirts of Sakata that had been revered since the 700s, with evidence to prove so (Kyogakura-yama). Or that a mountain I would have passed at least 100 times was actually a castle in the past (Yamuki-yama)? Or what about a mountain with a legendary white snake in its secret pond, complete with phantom falls (Yozo-san).

Either way, this project has been much more than I ever expected. It’s proving to be really fun, and some of the mountains I have coming up are equally exciting too. Stay tuned for more.

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MOUNTAINS OF WISDOM

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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 

tim@timbunting.com

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