In this part, you will find out the details of
the journey which the party travelled,
accordingly to the locations.
You would mainly discover that they
wandered on the line which connectss
Mount Choukai and Mount Gassan.
Once I stand on the ground of Shounai, I can see Mount Choukai in the north and Mount Gassan in the opposite, and centering around Mount Gassan, Mount Haguro and Mount Yudono come into my sight. Since it is flatland, two mountains can be seen simultaneously from multiple spots. Connecting Mount Choukai and Mount Haguro, the line hits a big river, Mogami river. Also, Yamagata prefecture has the most number of waterfalls in Japan.
It is unsure when the man decided to visit mountains and river systems, but water flux becomes waterfalls in the mountain area. Thus, hiking the road between Mount Choukai to Mount Haguro means capturing the water flow and geographic character of Shounai by necessity.
Since it was in the midwinter, we estimated that the journey will be rough because of the annual heavy snow in Mount Choukai and Mount Gassan. Asking this year’s weather to the local villagers, we decided to head for the flatland on February and the mountains beyond the forest on March. Each mountains will become a quite severe environment in midwinter. Flatland is also in the abysmal weather in which terrible
local window blows and sunny day rarely lasts for multiple days. Then, we betook ourselves from the base of mountain, but accumulated snow stood up in front of us in the mountainside.
passage01Moutain En Haguro
Since the altitude of Mount Haguro is not so high, it is easy to reach the crest. Yet, climbing up even just a little, there were 5~6 meter of snow there. As I ascended the mountainside, I realized it was much broader than it seemed from a distance.
We arrived at the crest. The snow kept falling and stopping. It was beautiful when it accreted on the cedar trees.(6:58 a.m.) / I could see mountains in a haze far away.
(8:45 a.m.) / We espied brooks and the other place while declining the mountainside.I wondered if the small stream, which became narrow because of snow cover would become wider than it was now.(11:14 a.m.) / The weather got worse and the winds blew strongly. We finished today by wondering around many spots.(1:07 p.m.)
Sunny and partly cloudy
We headed for Mount Haguro again. On the way, we found a superb crepuscular rays radiating toward Haguro. (7:00 a.m.) / We tried to behold a distant view of Mount Gassan from the suburban part of former Haguro-city. But the cloud covered the crest and interrupted us.
We haven’t been able to see the whole figure of Mount Gassan so far during the journey.(8:03 a.m.) / We arrived at Dewa Sanzan Shrine. The Five-Storied Pagoda and trees stand superbly. The morning sun poured on the temple and ground
covered with snow and it looked celestial.(9:08 a.m.) / We passed over the open patch on the way of going down the mountain.Clouds over Mount Gassan and Mount Choukai left and the face of two mountains appeared.We cloud not see Mount Gassan, which made it all the more breathtaking when we finally found it. The guide told us that snow piles more than 10m in midwinter, so we decided to head for Mount Yudono in a few days.(1:57 p.m.) / Since it darkened up, we finished filming. (4:09 p.m.)
Dewa Sanzan Shrine is a collective term for shrines located on the top of
Mount Gassan which compose mountain worship in Shounai region.
In Mount Haguro, there is a Sanjingo-saiden Shrine, which enshrines deities of all three sacred mountains.
Each of three mountains represent
“present” (Mount Haguro),
“past” (Mount Gassan),
“future” (Mount Yudono). Mountain ascetic hermits undergo practice of life and death.
Falls springs between rocks is also a symbol of sanctification of one’s mind and body, and naissance. That’s why, not only mountain ascetic hermits who take the waterfall, but also people living Shounai region worshipped them as a deity of fertility. 2,446 stone steps and an ancient Japanese cedar trees 300~600 years old are popular as a beauty spot.
We went to Dewa Sanzan Shrine before the sunrise and looked up the Five-Storied Pagoda. Almost all of the worshippers do not come here in winter. It was much more harsh to go down stone steps than to climb the mountain. I heard a birdsong from somewhere.(5:23 p.m.) We set off homeward.
Mount Yudono… The mountain which symbolizes resurrection.
We headed for the crest of mount Gassan from the base.(5:12 p.m.) / I observed the view of the top of Mount Gassan and snow ripple on the ground which was shaped by the wind.(6:25 p.m.) / We arrived at open space. I could see nothing, but once I got used to the darkness, Mount Ishimidou loomed out of the moonlight. We would descend to the glen in the east side
of Mount Yudono and climb again. (0:10 a.m.) / We rolled down the almost 40 degrees ramp at once. This was a severe situation in which it felt almost like the right angle when descending. After having lunch at the swamp, we ascended again. (1:13 p.m.) / We sized up that we could not ascend any more in terms of time and stamina.Instead of going up, we watched Mount Yudono.The crest seemed just around the corner.(0:02 a.m.) / We started to descend. We passed downward gentle slope along the swamp fast. We hit a big snow cornice. We got to a closed road.(2:30 p.m.) / We arrived at the base and finished the sixth day.(4:06 p.m.)
passage04A Thread from Heaven
Sunny, later snow, later sunny again
We went to the snow field near Tozawa Village in early morning. I feel cold from the inside.
It was almost desolate.(5:00 a.m.)/Judging by the weather, we headed for Shiraito Waterfall which was close by. (0:45 p.m.)
A popular destination, Shiraito Waterfall. Mogami River is wide and is fast flowing.
Heading for further north there were some waterfalls which flows into Mogami River.
Among these waterfalls, Shiraito Waterfall is one of the tallest and the most beautiful (which I had already depicted from old maps.)
passage05Tamasudare Waterfall 1
Cloudy, partly sunny
Walking on the deep snow, we visited Tamasudare Waterfall since our last visit at the end of the year./(6:12 a.m.)
I could look up Mount Choukai closely and see half of it from the bottom, but cloud covered the crest.
The entrance towards the waterfall was covered with a high wall of snow. We walked a little way from a swamp and filmed pine trees, Japanese cedar, and Mount Choukai upward. (7:14 a.m.) / Since our path had poor footing, our legs got buried up to knees-high.
I got really hot even in the snow.(9:58 a.m.) / We finally arrived at Tamazudare Waterfall after passing through the shrine gate. There was an ice cascade. I felt it growing colder from the water sprays. It may have been because of the snow coverage, but I felt the waterfall was smaller than the painting I saw at Chidou.(11:52 a.m.)
We visited Tamasudare Waterfall again at dusk. (5:15 p.m.) / Since I was getting used to the snow mountains, I was able o arrive at the waterfall sooner than yesterday. It was a threatening environment with snows covering the tall pine trees nearby us sometimes dropped. I ran out of breath
easily with even just a few steps. (6:20 p.m) / When I approached the waterfall basin a large chunk of snow came rolling almost hitting me, but stopping just on time.I heard a sound of icicle gradually collapsing.(6:56 p.m.) / While we were descending, I filmed snow along the river.(7:25 p.m.)
passage06The Mountain of the Sun 1-Somma, the Snow Dessert
I have visited Mount Choukai three times. The first time from the Yunodai entrance, the second time Fukura entrance and lastly from Nakajimadai entrance
We started our way with 3 professional guides. (7:00 a.m.) /Mount Gassan can be seen on afar. Closer by there was the crest of the soma of Mount Choukai and at the back of it was the crest of Mount Yudono.(9:24 a.m.) / To the forest limit. The beechwood forest was beautiful. (10:58 a.m.) / Passing through the forest limit I arrived to the first open plain. It got suddenly cold. I was able to see Mount Gassan and Mount Zao. I saw the summit of Mount Choukai close up. The creeping pines were beautiful. (11:32 a.m.) /
We climbed up further. The place was deserted. I was pulled down. We ate lunch in the rock shadow. (0:54 p.m.)/We arrived at a ragged desert like valley from the upland. The patterns as the snow cornice looked beautiful. In the further end I got the panoramic view of the Japan sea and the Shounai Plain. (2:08 p.m.) / The sun setting highlighted the jaggy ridge lines and patterns. I gazed in awe. I saw a golden eagle flying afar. There are only 4 of them in the Shounai area. Seeing them was a treasurable experience. (3:49 p.m.) / I waited for the sunset. The sun went down the somewhat cloudy sky. (5:00 p.m.) The sky was clear and the stars can be seen very well.(6:03 p.m.) / We arrived back safely. (8:07 p.m.)
passage07The Mountain of the Sun 2-Whiteout
We started from Nakajimadai entrance today. We went through the forest road to the area where there was still snow. (7:10 a.m.) / We went all the way through the narrow cedar forest. The surroundings got less and less greenery. (8:00 a.m.) / Although there were much clouds it kept on passing. The moment they slipped through between was a beautiful site. As we were located in the almost same
altitude as the clouds, we frequently had whiteout. (9:57 a.m.) / We went to the highest point with no stop. We beheld the top of Mount Choukai, its surrounding mountains, the sun and the creeping pines. The strong wind and the blowing snow gave us a difficult situation. (0:27 p.m.) / It got cloudy again. We descended earlier because it was getting into a dangerous time zone as well. (3:13 p.m.)
passage08Tamasudare waterfall 2
This day was our second time at the Tamasudare Waterfall.
We travelled close to the Tamasudare. Although it is cloudy we can occasionally see the Mount Choukai.
The road to Tamasudare was quite easy to walk.(07:50 a.m.) / The strong wind
brought the water mists from the waterfall briskly. The wind was blowing towards us. (10:42 a.m.) / We saw clouds, Mount Choukai and the sun near the waterfall for a while.(0:53 p.m.)
Sunny with occasional clouds
We started our way to the Tamasudare Waterfall. We observed clouds, snow and Japanese cedar and closeups of plants at the entrance.(0:01 p.m.) / We arrived at the waterfall. The mists were playing in favor of us this time than last time, but this time it didn’t end snowing. (2:46 p.m.) / We saw
the moon peeking through the clouds. The moon slipped away after a short while so we waited, but the clouds gradually became thicker. Day 6 was over. (18:21 p.m.)
passage09The Mountain of the Sun 3-The pathway of the wind
Sunny, but heavy wind near the mountain top
We headed for Mount Choukai from the north side with the same guides who accompanied us from the previous 2 sessions. (5:00 a.m.) / We proceeded earnestly through the forest. (6:13 a.m.) / It was the most dangerous road so far. We proceeded occasionally getting lost along the way. We rollovered several times. When we pass through the forest, Mount Choukai came into our sight. It showed a different beauty from the ocean side of it. (8:07 a.m.) / The weather started to get more and more unstable.
The fresh snow was being blown away by the wind storm and it attacked us like a blizzard. It was cold and hurtful. The ascending snow was beautiful. (10:08 a.m.) / We have arrived to the furthest point. Our arrival was past the forest line, a place like a white desert. The surrounding was open and vast.(0:35 p.m.)
We descended the mountain for we exceeded our limit. Our surrounding started to get covered with thick clouds and both the cold and heavy blizzard forced us to retreat once.(1:26 p.m.) / We had lunch at a open valley-like space. We could hardly eat as the wind was getting stronger. We start to walk down again.(1:55 p.m.) / As the mountain on the Akita prefecture side was steeply and dangerous there was the need to start our way back before sundown. We head down in quite a speed. We continued our way through almost
vertically dropping cliffs in the same manner as well. (3:48 p.m.) / Although stopping from overheat engine a couple of times, we arrive back before dark. We go back to the meeting place and thank our guides. They were all amazing people who were mountain experts and very reliable. With this we finished our filming at Mount Choukai. (18:04 p.m.)