Oku no Hosomichi: Shitomae Barrier to Nezugaseki

Dewa Route

Oku no Hosomichi: Chapter Three
Enjoy the path from Yamadera to the Mogami River, the Dewa Sanzan, Kujuku-shima, and Nezugaseki.

The Dewa Route takes us from the Natagiri-toge Pass, regarded as the hardest section of the Oku no Hosomichi, to Yamadera, The Mogami River, the Dewa Sanzan (The Three Sacred Mountains of Dewa), to the northernmost point on our travels, Kujuku-shima. From there, we head south along the Sea of Japan with stops in Sakata and Tsuruoka before arriving in Nezugaseki at the border to Niigata Prefecture. We will ride a boat down the Mogami River, climb the 2,446 stone steps of Mt. Haguro of Dewa Sanzan fame, and on the final day enjoy a barbecue in Nezugaseki, among other exciting activities.

Dewa Route

In the Footsteps of Basho
Dewa Route

Oku no Hosomichi E-Bike Tour Dewa Route


Tendo to Yamadera

Our destination for this day is not very far at all; sightseeing in nearby Yamadera. After climbing the 1,015 stone steps to pay our respects at Kaizan-do, we visit the Basho Memorial Museum for a Haiku workshop and to enjoy a Matcha (green tea) experience.

How silent!
The cicada’s voice
Soaks into the rocks

At Risshaku-ji Temple


Mogami River to Dewa Sanzan

Departing Higashine, we enjoy some famous Senbon Dango (sweet rice dumplings) at Oishida. Following along the Mogami River, we board a chartered boat at Motoaikai, the same location as Basho. When we disembark, we pass through the Kiyokawa Barrier and head towards Mt. Haguro of the Dewa Sanzan. This night we spend in Saikan, Dewa Sanzan Jinja shrine lodging at the top of Mt. Haguro.

The summer rains
Gathering into swift flows
Mogami River

At The Mogami River


Mt. Haguro to Kujuku-shima

After leaving Saikan, we descend Mt. Haguro’s 2,446 step stone stairway among the sprawling cedar forest, a spot that earned the highest three stars on the Michelin Green Guide Japan. Then, we jump back on our E-Bikes to cross the Shonai Plains and head towards Kujuku-shima in Kisakata under the watchful eye of the famous Mt. Chokai.

How cool
The faint crescent moon
Over Mt. Haguro

On Mt. Haguro


Kisakata to the Port City of Sakata

In Kisakata, Basho remarked ‘just as Matsushima makes you smile, Kisakata moves you’. Here we will take in the view from the lookout at Nemuno-oka, Kujuku-shima’s Roadside station, before riding our E-Bikes to Kanman-ji Temple. Following this, we head south towards Juroku Rakan, the 16 Buddha carved into the rocks, and the bright blue Maruike-sama pond in Yuza. Then, we head towards the port City of Sakata, where we enjoy a night out.

In the rain Seishi asleep
Mimosa blossoms

In Kisakata


Sakata to Tsuruoka

For breakfast, we enjoy freshly-caught seafood from a restaurant at the port. After eating, we visit Hiyoriyama Park where there is a statue of Basho. Our next stop is the Sankyo Rice Warehouses that were used in the filming of Oshin. Then we visit the Sanno Club famous for its exhibitions of Kasafuku ornaments, one of Japan’s top three hanging ornaments. Lastly, we will enjoy a private performance of the Sakata Maiko (trainee Geisha) over lunch, before heading to Tsuruoka. After paying our respects at Zenpo-ji Temple, a temple that became famous for a fish that looks like a human face, we go to Yutagawa Onsen, a tiny hot spring village with over 1300 years of history. At the traditional Japan Ryokan Inn, we enjoy 10 types of local sake specially selected by the proprietor.

From Mt. Atsumi
A breeze blows
On this cool evening

In Sakata


Yutagawa to Nenjuseki
The trip’s finale

Heading through the Kasadori Mountain Pass, a pass named after the fact that the wind from the Sea of Japan is so strong there it blows off the hats of travellers, we arrive at Atsumi Onsen. After a relaxing foot spa, we head towards the final destination of this trip, the Nenjuseki Barrier. Along with the Shirakawa Barrier, and the Nakasono Barrier, the Nenjuseki Barrier makes up the three former barriers into Oshu Province. Not only is this a place Basho visited, it is also famous as the location Minamoto no Yoshitsune landed while travelling from Kyoto to Hiraizumi. Basho is said to have known this when he visited. While in this area, also known as Nezugaseki, we will enjoy kayaking in the ocean as the sun sets. In celebration of reaching our final stop, there will be a farewell party over a BBQ of local delicacies. For accommodation, we will stay in tents along the beach under the stars.


Returning home

From Nezugaseki, those returning by train will go to Atsumi Station and enjoy walking around the hot spring village. Those flying from Shonai Airport will stop by Kamo Aquarium in time to return on our E-Bikes.

This project was selected as part of the Agency of Cultural Affairs’ ‘Cultural Tourism Content Enrichment Project aimed at the Revitalisation and Expansion of Tourism’.