Posted by: pdot78 | March 25, 2009

Week 37.5: Dewa Sanzan

Hey all,

In lieu of the nice weather (and the fact that its almost spring), Randy and I went hiking.We decided to go to Dewa Sanzan. It consists of three sacred mountains and since the larger two are not even open until late july, we climbed the smallest of the three: Mt. Haguro. It was pretty easy to find and get to so I was happy. There was also some snow but that was to be expected. The climb was cool because it took us up some 2500 stone steps that were placed on the trail a long time ago.

We also passed a small waterfall that was accompanied by another one of those red bridges the Japanese love to build.

After this we ran into my main reason for picking this place. Gojū-no-tō. Hidden amongst enormous trees, this five story pagoda is over 600 years old and was built without using a single nail. Unlike the ridiculous red pagodas in Nikko I feel that this belongs here, in the middle of nowhere, halfway up a mountain.

Once we reached the summit, we had plans to check out Sanzan Gosaiden, a temple with the worlds thickest thatched roof.  It was closed for winter but the roof which is clearly the most important part was still visible. Here is what she looked like.

Once the rain decided it was time for us to go back we had to wait 3 hours for the bus to take us back to the train station where we were to wait another 2 hours for the train to take us home. Note to self: travel in travelling season! I still had a great time being outside doing things again. Mt. Azuma  and Mt. Shirane are coming up but I will probably climb something else before then.

Aside from that I get to move into a new apartment in 2 weeks. This new place is older and smells funny but has the advantage of being directly above my school and is marginally closer to the beach so I am happy.

Sakura season is almost upon us. I will take lots of pictures. Heres the rest from the hike, nothing is blooming yet so it’s not as colourful as I would have liked.



  1. I’m still amazed at the amount of work that the Japanese put into architecture, and how expansive it is

    what is the purpose of a pagoda anyways?

  2. So youre saying that the Pagonda was built without nails, what was used then? Heres another question, does anyone take care of the Pagoda?
    and another one…. why do they cover everything up in the winter time?

  3. They probably just used friction to hold things together. I think they cut things so they fit, like a jigsaw, then interlock them in crazy insane and beautiful (in the case of the Japanese) ways and presto! No nails, no screws, no glue! I do something similar when I make furniture.

  4. Amie has the right of it on the building structure. Just like a puzzle.

    Pagodas usually hold religious relics that can be worshipped on the way to the temple which is always near by.

    They cover everything up in the winter to help protect it from the snow. Given that this (and most of the other temples in Japan) are UNESCO World Heritage sites, they would want to protect it as much as possible. As for who looks after them, the temple staff obviously do their best to keep the grounds and building clean but would most likely hire on professionals for restorations.

  5. Have you ever considered becoming a professional photographer? Your photos are amazing. Had a greateek skiing with Brad at Sugarloaf. Weather and snow conditions were awesome. April 23 should be quite a birthday party with your parents arriving. My apologies for not being more attentive to your escapades. Will try harder.

  6. Awesome pictures… I was also amazed at the fact that they did not use any nails but I guess that’s what makes it so much more beautiful and interesting

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