Enjoy a diverse fall adventure in the abundant nature of the Gassan Geopark and Shonai Region. Hike Mt. Gassan. Join veteran mountain guides and native English speaking translators on a hike through the forests and rivers up Mt. Gassan. Learn how to identify and harvest a variety of delicious mushrooms that are abundant in the early fall. Enjoy a cooking class led by locals from the surrounding villages, prepare and cook the mushrooms you have gathered in a variety of cooking methods including tempura, hotpot, miso soup, pasta, and even pizza! In addition, visit the ancient cedar forests of Mt. Haguro, Gyokusenji Temple, and explore the downtown district of Sakata City. Our Yamagta Hiking and Sakata Sightseeing Fall Tour is organized and led by locals in the Shonai Region including a mix of Japanese and international residents living in Shonai.
Hike on Mt. Gassan and pick wild mushrooms, visit sacred Mt. Haguro and the port city of Sakata
Pick up at Tsuruoka Station or Shonai Airport in the late morning or early afternoon (flexible). We will then make our way over to the Kita Gassanso Lodge on Mt. Gassan, where we will drop off our luggage and check into our rooms.
We will meet our mountain guides, who will give us a briefing on the mushroom harvest hike. They will instruct participants on the types of mushrooms found during our hike, identify them, and other essential logistics. Rest assured, as the guides will be accompanying us to provide full support and the excursion.
They will also help us lookout for environments that may even have scarce matsutake mushrooms!
After hiking through forests, along rivers, and in open fields, we will then take our harvest back to the Kitta Gassanso Lodge for a cooking class led by locals from the nearby villages. We will learn how to prepare the various types of mushrooms we gathered and prepare them in multiple ways, including tempura, hotpot, miso soup, pizza, pasta, and more!
It's then to enjoy a night feast together in the lodge with a fantastic view of the surrounding mountains and rivers.
Following dinner, guests will get to soak in an onsen bath in the lodge and unwind after the eventful day.
(Optional) A relaxing night hike to a waterfall nearby the lodge!
Waking up early in the morning for breakfast, we will make our way over to Mt. Haguro for a hike along its ancient stone trail that winds through a towering cedar forest. This sacred mountain full of Shinto and Buddhist shrines, statues, and a massive five-story pagoda. It is part of the rich history of mountain worship that dates back over 2,000 years ago.
Along our hike, we will introduce the rich history of this mountain and an introductory lesson about the Yamabushi monks that still train on this mountain to this day.
Reaching the peak of Mt. Haguro, we will make offerings at the temple and make our way back down the mountain for lunch.
After finishing our hike, we will drive to Gyokusenji Temple. We will enjoy a traditional tea ceremony experience next to a beautiful Japanese garden that has been designated as a national treasure of Japan.
We will then travel to Sakata's neighboring port city for dinner and check into our lodging for the night.
(Optional) Take a stroll around Sakata City and visit the historic Sankyo Soko Rice Warehouses, which are beautifully illuminated at night!
The third day of our tour will be about experiencing the unique and rich culture of the Shonai Region and its deep ties to the sea trade with the rest of Japan.
We will begin our day with a visit to the Sanno Club Museum in downtown Sakata. We will learn how this region’s extensive trade with the rest of Japan shaped this region economically and culturally. We will also get to see many of the local crafts of Sakata, including kasafuku dolls which we will make with local craftswomen from the city.
Following this, we will walk over to Somaro Maiko Teahouse, where we will experience a stunning private performance by the beautiful maiko of the Shonai Region, along with a bento lunch in their home.
After exploring the rest of the home at Somaro, we will drive over to Sakata Station to catch the train or fly out of Shonai Airport.
The minimum number of participants required for the tour to run is 4.
The meeting points are Tsuruoka Station and Shonai Airport.