A Day at Mount Haguro: Green Soba and a Hot Spring

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  • Ready for a breathtaking adventure? Come to Tsuruoka city in Yamagata Prefecture and climb Mount Haguro. Mount Haguro, or Hagurosan, is a 2,446 stone step mountain that’s part of the 3 sacred mountains in Yamagata Prefecture. While climbing you’ll enjoy amazing views and excellent service. You can climb this mountain all year long, but I recommend doing so in the fall.

    If you’re like me, I always want to know a little about the place before I go. So quickly here are a few interesting facts about Mount Haguro: It is part of the Dewa San. These 3 mountains also include Mount Chokai and Mount Gassan. In addition to the 2,446 steps as previously mentioned, it is elevated 414 meters high.

    Now before you start your climb, you must stop and eat the moroheiya soba across the street at Zuisin門. At this restaurant, you’ll enjoy my favorite soba in all of Japan. While you eat, the owner may want to chat with you. She has amazing English and even better stories. You must ask her about her massive garden. Her cherries in the early summer and the persimmons in the fall are to die for.

    Here is a close up picture of the moroheiya soba. You must try it!


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    This is the most popular dish. It includes the soba and a fresh seasonal fruit from the owner’s garden


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    Now that you had an amazing lunch, it’s time to climb! It’s said that it’ll take 2 hours to reach the summit but it’s absolutely worth it. On the way up there’s the famous 5 story pagoda and a little tea house in addition to the mini-shrines and other buildings. At the tea house, ni no sakachaya, you can enjoy tea and sweets as well as get your very own certificate (either in English or Japanese) saying you climbed Hagurosan. The mountain is lined with cedar trees which are believed to be more than 600 years old.

    Here is a picture of the side of the pagoda in the fall


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    An unique feature of this day is all the support you receive from the other climbers. Make sure you support the other people by saying good luck, ganbare, or just a little more, mou chotto. My favorite is when everyone tells others to “fight on!” with an all important faito. While it’s a simple greeting, it’s powerful.

    Here’s a picture looking out to the west about half way up the mountain


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    Once you have reached the top, you should spend some time there. This massive summit includes a few shrines, restaurants, small stands, and places to buy omiyage, or souvenirs.

    A day at Mount Haguro is unlike anything else. Starting off with a great soba lunch and then getting support from everyone makes this challenging mountain special. Make the day even better by ending with a soak in a natural hot spring after to relax your muscles.

    Related Articles:

    3 Holy Mountains of Japan to Explore
    Climbing Japan’s tallest mountain Fuji: personal experience.