Yamagata Hiking and Sakata Sightseeing Fall Tour

Hike on Mt. Gassan and pick wild mushrooms, visit sacred Mt. Haguro and the port city of Sakata

3 days


  • Forage for a variety of mushrooms as you hike through the pristine and abundant nature of the Gassan Geopark
  • Spend the night in a mountain lodge on Mt. Gassan complete with an onsen bath that looks out into the mountains
  • Explore the lovely port city of Sakata and its rich Edo period culture, see a maiko dance, and experience a private traditional tea ceremony


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.
For a spiritual journey of Yamagata see our recommended tour here. 


Tour Itinerary

Day One:
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. 

From here 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 that can be found during our hike, how to identify them, and other important logistics. Rest assured as the guides will be accompanying us to provide full support along the excursion as well.  They will also help us look out for environments that may even have extremely rare matsudake 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 a variety of different ways including tempura, hotpot, miso soup, pizza, pasta, and more!

Then its time 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!

Day Two:
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 is filled with Shinto and Buddhist shrines, statues, and a massive five-story pagoda.  All of this is part of the rich history of mountain worship that dates back over 2,000 years ago. 

Along our hike we will give you an introduction into 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 where 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 the neighboring port city of Sakata for dinner and will 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! 

Day Three:
Our 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 where we will learn about 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 then drive over to Sakata Station for those who came by train or to Shonai Airport where we will say our farewells and conclude our action packed three days. 

Important information

Included in price

  • All transportation within Shonai
  • All costs associated with the mushroom harvesting experience
  • All lodging costs
  • All entrance fees
  • All meals except for lunch and dinner on the second day
  • The private maiko dance and bento lunch at Somaro

Not included

  • Transportation to/from starting/ending points of the tour
  • Personal Travel insurance
  • Personal costs incurred during the tour (souvenirs, etc.)
  • Any unscheduled travel
  • Lunch or dinner on the second day

Minimum number of participants required for the tour to run is 4. 

Know before you book: 

  • Cancellation: 
    7 days prior to the day of your trip – 40 %,
    1 day prior – 50 %,
    On the day – 100 %,
    No-show – 100 %
  • This experience is limited to September and October
  • This tour can take place regardless of the weather

 What you need to bring:

  • Hiking boots
  • Rain gear
  • 3 days worth of clothes

Starting point

The meeting points are Tsuruoka Station and Shonai Airport. 

View Directions

Organised by The Hidden Japan

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