Mythical Beasts, Buddha’s Mother, and buried Yamabushi treasure? Welcome to Mt. Maya.

Mt. Maya: more than one of the best hikes in Shonai

The Shugendo Peak of Mt. Maya: Solo Hike
Road in the foreground leads to a mountain shrouded in morning fog over the village of Sekigawa at the base of Mt. Maya in Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture.
Morning fog shrouds the village of Sekigawa at the base of Mt. Maya

Mt. Maya’s Namesake: The Mythical Ryuma Dragon-Horse

View over the surrounding mountains getting ready to change for the autumn, with a bright blue sky covered in ominous clouds at the summit of Mt. Maya, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata
The summit of Mt. Maya offers unbeatable views over the Asahi Alps
Some of the Jizo statues wearing red bibs that line the trails from Atsumi on Mt. Maya, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata.
Some of the Jizo statues that line the trails from Atsumi on Mt. Maya

Buddha’s Mother and Shugen Yamabushi Training on Mt. Maya

The Yamabushi Trails of Mt. Kinbo, where Mt. Maya’s Kinbo Shugen began

Maya Gongen and the Shugendo of Mt. Maya

Deep in the primeval beech forests of Mt. Maya with a narrow brown path leading the way. This forest is one of the reasons why Mt. Maya was designated a top 300 mountain of Japan.
The primeval beech forest on the western side of Mt. Maya

Yamabushi Treasure Buried on Mt. Maya

The sun shines brightly over Mt. Maya as it also hits forests in the foreground.
Mt. Maya seen from Sekigawa in the early morning hours

Hiking Mt. Maya: The Three Trails

A stark red sign on a beech tree on the Sekigawa Trail up Mt. Maya, just where the path meets the Koesawa Trail.
Point on Mt. Maya where the Koesawa and Sekigawa Trails meet. When I was taking a rest here a monkey nearby just wouldn’t let up, even after blowing my conch :)
Plaque at the top of Mt. Maya showing the directions of the surrounding mountains and Mt. Maya’s height of 1,019m above sea level.
Plaque at the top of Mt. Maya about the surrounding mountains

The Arasawa Trail from Asahi Village to the east

Some of the ropes that are required when climbing Mt. Maya, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata.
Mt. Maya requires using ropes to climb up at multiple points. This mountain is not for the faint of heart.

Hiking from the Arasawa Trailhead

Thick bush of primeval linden and beech forest envelops the trail up Mt. Maya, one of the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata.
Thick bush envelops the trail up Mt. Maya. This photo was taken right next to the emergency hut.

Getting to the Koesawa Trail on Mt. Maya

A gravel road heads towards Mt. Maya at the entrance to the Koesawa Trailhead along Road 345 heading south from central Tsuruoka to Sekigawa.
The entrance to the Koesawa Trailhead along Road 345 heading south from central Tsuruoka to Sekigawa

Hiking Mt. Maya from the Koesawa Trailhead

Mt. Maya covered in bush seen in the distance through some trees with bright blue sky in the background.
The summit of Mt. Maya seen after the Koesawa and Sekigawa trails meet

Getting to the Sekigawa Trailhead on Mt. Maya

The Mt. Maya Sekigawa Trailhead entrance along Route 345 has a bridge that is hard to spot.
The Sekigawa Trailhead entrance along Route 345 can be a bit hard to spot.

Hiking Mt. Maya from the Sekigawa Trailhead

Some of the primeval beech forests on the western Atsumi side of Mt. Maya
Some of the primeval beech forests on the western Atsumi side of Mt. Maya

The Nanatsuki Falls on Mt. Maya

The mountains surrounding the summit of Mt. Maya stick up in the bright blue autumn sky.
Looking towards the Koesawa and Arasawa Trailheads at the summit of Mt. Maya. Keep following this path down and it takes you to Mt. Kinbo.

From the Emergency Hut to The Summit of Mt. Maya

The emergency hut on Mt. Maya in the shade, just above where the Nanatsuki Falls are, and right near an emergency water source.
The emergency hut on Mt. Maya, just above where the Nanatsuki Falls are, and right near an emergency water source

The Summit of Mt. Maya

The summit of Mt. Maya looking towards Mt. Gassan. The summit has a flat surface and is surrounded in all directions by deciduous trees and other mountains that stick up into the sky.
The summit of Mt. Maya looking towards Mt. Gassan

In conclusion: Mt. Maya

Sign explaining  the top of Mt. Maya including the elevation of 1,019m above sea level.
Sign at the top of Mt. Maya

Nearby Locations Worth Checking Out

The Yamabushi trails of Mt. Kinbo

Yakushi Shrine and The Battle of Sekigawa

Yakushi shrine with bright red Torii gates in Sekigawa, near the Sekigawa Entrance to Mt. Maya.
Yakushi Shrine in Sekigawa, a strategic location used during the Boshin war, when the last samurai existed.

Shinaori Weaving: The Lifeblood of Sekigawa

The Nukumorikan in Sekigawa, a huge two storey wooden building made with traditional Japanese carpentry with characteristic white Shikkui plaster walls. Here you can try your hand at Shinaori weaving.
The Nukumorikan where Sekigawa’s Shinaori Linden Weaving centre is located

Conquering Japan on Mt. Nihonkoku

Sekigawa and Mt. Maya are not too far from Mt. Nihonkoku if you’re looking for a shorter mountain to climb. Mt. Nihonkoku takes about one hour to get up, so two hours return.

Atsumi Onsen and Mt. Atsumi

Mt. Atsumi in Atsumi Onsen
Mt. Atsumi in Atsumi Onsen

The Fishing Village of Nezugaseki

Itsukushima Shrine in the fishing town of Nezugaseki south of Atsumi Onsen, but not too far from Sekigawa where Mt. Maya is.
Itsukushima Shrine in the fishing town of Nezugaseki south of Atsumi Onsen.

Mt. Maya | 摩耶山 | まやさん

100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata Peaks

  1. Exploring The Yamabushi Trails of Kinbo-zan
  2. Sakura Mountain: Arakura-yama
  3. Whetting your appetite for wetlands on Takadate-yama
  4. The Hidden Side of Haguro-san (Haguro Kodo)
  5. The Shogun and the Falcon, How I “Conquered” Japan: Nihon-koku
  6. Dancing in the Dawn Lillies: Shoga-dake and The Fuji of The North
  7. Bananas and Cokes, Leaches and Pit Vipers: Kumanonaga-mine
  8. Reaching Peak Tranquility on Atsumi-dake
  9. Sanze’s Little Helper: Fujikura-yama
  10. The Dewa Sanzan’s “Mountain of Death” — Gas-san
  11. The Dewa Sanzan’s “Mountain of Rebirth” — Yudono-san
  12. Womb Passes and Monkey Crossings: Kyogakura-yama — The Shugendo Peak of Sutras
  13. Mythical Beasts, Buddha’s Mother and Buried Yamabushi Treasure? Welcome to Maya-san
  14. The Widow’s Peak: Ubaga-take
  15. The Epitome of Autumn Leaves in North Japan: Taizo-san
  16. Mother. Hunter. Mountain. Hokari-yama
  17. Homer Simpson’s Heaven in North Japan: The Donut-shaped Yonetaihei-zan
  18. The Medieval Castle and Mighty River of Yamuki-yama
  19. Panoramas and picnics under the Sakura: Kita-yama
  20. Yozo-san: White Snakes, White Monkeys and Slimy Salamanders
  21. Abandoned Ski Field and Phantom Forest of Tsuchiyu-yama (Mt. Tsuchiyu)
  22. Turtles, Tigers, and a Legendary Japanese Character: Kamewari-yama
  23. Zao-san and Why We Climb Mountains
  24. Japan Has Pyramids? — Yakushi-san and The OG Japan content creator
  25. Venerable Old Man Mountain — The Mist and Mystery of Okina-san
  26. Why this mountain is EVERYWHERE in Japan — Murayama Ha-yama
  27. The Mt. Fuji of North Japan: Chokai-san

Yamabushi Newsletter

Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi on Zao-san. Photo owned by Kiwi Yamabushi.

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I share little-known aspects of Japan and Japanese culture and have a weekly newsletter just for you! https://www.timbunting.com/newsletter.

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Kiwi Yamabushi

I share little-known aspects of Japan and Japanese culture and have a weekly newsletter just for you! https://www.timbunting.com/newsletter.