Taking in the Tachiyazawa River, designated one of Japan's one hundred most exquisite waters, this special Journey of Rebirth tour course follows along the “Ryujin Kaido” (the 'Dragon God Road'), which meets the entrance of the sacred mountain, Mt Gassan. This is the start point for the Gassan Ryujin Marathon, a sacred event that invites participants on its 'journey of rebirth', alongside the spiritually connected destinations on this tour, featuring the Dewa Sanzan trio of sacred mountains including Mt Gassan itself (representing the past), Mt Haguro (the present) and Mt Yudono (the future).
Aimed not just at competitive runners, but also for children and adults of all ages, the Gassan Ryujin Marathon event also offers a chance to experience the natural beauty of Yamagata prefecture and experience local Autumn flavors – particularly the locally grown Shonai rice, which is said to be the most delicious rice in Japan.
Along with the pleasures of sightseeing on this course, the local cuisine, and basking in the warm hospitality of the people of Yamagata, participants will have time after the event to shop for local crafts, soak at leisure in the local hot springs, and learn about the rich history of this region.
On the first day, guests can relax their travel-weary bodies in the baths at Sagaeonsen, a hot spring that is said to make your skin glow. Local specialties will be served at dinner, with a focus on preparing runners for the exertions of the following day.
The day before the race, you'll get the chance to tour around famous sightseeing spots, including a visit to the hot spring town of Ginzan Onsen and a leisurely boat cruise along the Mogami River. A preview tour of the running course will be given, before heading to Mt Haguro to be greeted by the local yamabushi mountain monks, who will bestow their blessings to help you prepare for the big race. Visitors can wear a traditional sacred rope, or shimenawa, while offering their prayers for a successful race at Sanshingosaiden shrine.
On the day of the race each runner will "face their past" at Mt. Gassan, then embark on the Gassan Ryujin Marathon under the watchful eye of the local water god, Ryujin-sama. While being cheered on by the local residents, runners will be also able to replenish their energy with local foods laid out at various rest stops along the way. After the race, runners will be able to visit Mt. Yudono, which symbolizes the "future life". Here visitors will remove their shoes, offer a prayer of thanks, and enjoy their "rebirth." For dinner, a nutritious meal of mountain vegetables will be served to replenish the body after the exertions of the day.
On this tour, you will discover the faith behind these sacred mountains, follow this special sightseeing course, and experience your own 'journey of rebirth'.
Venue | Kiyokawa Ground (former Kiyokawa Sekisho Ruins) Hanazaki-1-1 Kiyokawa, Shonai, Higashitagawa District, Yamagata Prefecture