THE MOUNTAIN OF THE MOON
Mount Gassan, the oldest mountain of the Dewa Sanzan, the highest of the three mountains, has been the core of the Dewa Sanzan's mountain worshipping practices since the beginning. Even though many people think of Mt. Haguro when talking about the Dewa Sanzan, the oldest mention of the Dewa Sanzan in historical writings talks about a "Gassan Shrine," built between 712 and 773, proof it was worshipped before the two other mountains in time.
The Shinto deity worshipped on Mt. Gassan is Tsukiyomi 月読命, the incarnation of the moon.
Who is Tsukiyomi?
The founder god of Japan: Izanagi had a wife. His wife died when giving birth to the Fire god. Izanagi went to see his beloved wife in the afterworld, but his soul got stained by the impure view of his wife's rotten corpse. To cleanse his sins away, he bathed in holy water. After he cleaned his left eye, the Sun Goddess: Amaterasu was born. After he cleaned his right eye: the Moon God was born: Tsukiyomi. He ordered Tsukiyomi to reign over the world of the night and the world of the Dead.
Later, Tsukiyomi killed the god of crops: Ukemochi no kami (保食神). The Sun Goddess (Amaterasu), angry at her brother, punished Tsukiyomi to live in a different space than her. This is when days and nights began to be separated. In order to expiate his fault, Tsukiyomi promised to help agriculture on Earth.
This is why the god of the moon is often associated with crops and food. Tsukiyomi is the god that rules upon the night, the world of the Dead and that protects agriculture.
JULY 1st - LATE OCTOBER
IT'S A RELIGIOUS PLACE...
We welcome all kinds of hikers! However, we would like you to remember this is a sacred place and that you should be considerate of the people around you, do not be too loud and do not litter. Thank you!
COME WITH THE APPROPRIATE GEAR !
It might be hot in Tsuruoka City, but up there, it is very cold! Please bring warm jackets, raincoats, hiking boots and sunglasses with you.
3 to 4.5 hours up
2 to 3.5 hours down
WHERE TO STAY?
You fear you'll miss the bus back to Tsuruoka? It's safer to stay in one of the hotels, ryokan, or guesthouses in the area.