To Yamagata

As if balancing out the last few amazing days, overnight the heavens opened up and let down an absolute downpour of rain. When we finally crawled out of the tent concerned at how harsh the rain was getting, our gear and bikes were in small ponds and we were also about to be swallowed up.

We quickly packed the sopping tent into its waterproof casing in the cover of a nearby cave and made our way north to Yamagata Prefecture. Along the way we were able to find many more beautiful rock formations, often with subtle shrines.

Stopping at one of the many convenience stores on our trip, we found a small youth hostel about 50kms from our origin. However as we approached the winding, overgrown forest road we started second guessing our decision. Carl ‘the brave’ Puchner entered the derelict building first, with almost no signs of trepidation.

The inside was actually super tidy, despite the many water streaks caused by the heavy rain. However we were only greeted by the howling winds and tapping of rain against the walls. Eventually we called the phone number and the hostel owner came out of a ‘Private’ labelled room to greet us. And to our surprise he was actually really nice, not creeper murderer-like as we were expecting.

Carl, deciding 50kms through the howling wind and rain was enough for the day stayed at the ‘haunted’ inn, whilst Ross went out to conquer yet another of Japan’s famous 100 mountains. His next victim being Mount Haguro (羽黒山). (You can read all about it here: However the main features is that it’s one of the 3 great Dewa Mountains, which you visit to basically appease the Shinto Gods and ensure a happy passage for your previous lives into the next. The mountain also boasts an impressive 1,000+ year old 5 storey pagoda, 2,446 stone steps, hundreds of great and beautiful Cedar Trees (杉の木 – すぎのき) and many shrines along the way. An absolute cracker of a climb. During my hike there it was still raining a little, but the cedars provided cover and the fog added to the mysterious atmosphere of the mountain forest.

It is also said that there are 33 lotus flowers and rice wine bowls on the stairs and if you find them all your dreams will come true… I was only able to find a few like the ones above, so I guess I’ll have to rely on the almighty Shenron. Time to finally call it a day. Thankfully no The Grudge or The Ring experiences happened that night.


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