THE MOUNTAIN OF FUTURE
Mount Yudono has not always been a part of the Dewa Sanzan. For geographical reasons, Mt. Yudono replaced Mt. Hayama (which, itself, replaced Mt. Chokai) in the early 17th century. It is said that Mt. Yudono was made a sacred place for Buddhism by Kukai (the founder of Shingon Buddhism) himself.
Who is Kukai?
Kukai, also known as Kobo Daishi (774-835), is a Japanese monk who founded the Shingon school of Buddhism. People thought of him as a Chaman, who could realize people's wishes by only reciting spells. The Buddha worshipped in Shingon Buddhism is Vairocana (in Japanese: Dainichi-nyorai), a Buddha that embodies the entire universe and incarnates the Universal Truth. Kukai's Shingon Buddhism teaches how to "become a Vairocana Buddha ourselves" by reciting Vairocana's words. According to Kukai, everybody could become a "Buddha" in their present life, a concept called Sokushinjobutsu 即身成仏, attainable through enlightenment and esoteric training.
Haguro and Yudono, a complicated relationship
When Mt. Haguro converted to Tendai Buddhism in 1642 for political reasons, it later asked Mt. Yudono to do the same. But Mt. Yudono refused to throw Shingon Buddhism away for Tendai; it would be considered treason to Kukai, the mountain's founder. Mt. Haguro's officials were outraged by Yudono's refusal to abide by their rules, and tensions emerged between the two. Mt. Yudono tried to stand out from Mt. Haguro by exacerbating its adherence to Shingon Buddhism. Mt. Yudono's temples, such as Dainichibo and Churenji, turned the Sokushinjobutsu concept into a concrete practice: the sokushinbutsu mummification to become a Buddha within the present body. This is why, out of the 20 sokushinbutsu in Japan, 11 of them were monks who trained in Mt. Yudono. There are 8 mummies in Yamagata Prefecture (4 in Tsuruoka, and 2 in Sakata City). Others can be found in Niigata Prefecture.
LATE APRIL - LATE OCTOBER
DON'T MISS THE BUS!
Get off the bus at Yudonosan Senninzawa 湯殿山仙人沢.
NO BUS FOR THE MOMENT
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.