Venerable Old Man Mountain — The Mist and Mystery of Okina-san

Okina-san — Legends and landscapes on an epic hike along the Ou Mountains

The green landscape of Obanazawa City, home to Okina-san, with the Kurumi Daira pond in the foreground.
Obanazawa City and the Kurumi Daira pond seen from Okina-san

The Ou Mountains

The Legend of Venerable Old Man Mountain

Trees in the background shrouded in the mist of Okina-san
The misty forests of Okina-san, one of the Famous Mountains of Tohoku

A Servant from Kami

The bamboo forests of Okina-san
Okina-san features extensive beech and bamboo forest trails

The Namesake of ‘Venerable Old Man Mountain’

The beech forests of Okina-san
The trails of Okina-san

The Mist and Mystery of Okina-san

Where the bamboo and beech forests of Okina-san merge
The mist and trails of Okina-san

Getting to Okina-san

A sign on a road pointing to the Okina-san trailhead
A sign pointing the way to Okina-san

Making it to Myokoji

The deep forests of Okina-san covered in cloud
The forests of Okina-san and summit covered in mist.

Okina-san Direct Trail (90 minutes one-way)

A sign in the Myokoji Hamlet showing the way to the Okina-san trailhead
A sign in Myokenji showing the route to Okina-san

Okina-san loop (three hours all up)

The misty forests of Okina-san
It’s hard to tell, but that’s the trail to the right. It’s quite steep in parts.

Streams galore!

The trails of Okina-san in the mist
The steep trails of Okina-san

The White Deer and Venerable Old Man

A small concrete shrine amongst the clouds at the summit of Okina-san
The shrine at the summit of Okina-san

Nearby locations worth visiting

Ginzan Onsen

Switch on coffee

Kita-yama

Kamuro-dake

Futatsu-mori

Okina-san in Obanazawa City| 翁山おきなさん

Okina-san with its summit shrouded in mist.
Okina-san with its summit shrouded in mist. This turned out to be a godsend, however.
  • Name that is literally the stuff of legend
  • Fun loop trail with expansive views to boot
  • One of the 100 Famous Mountains of Tohoku
  • Located along the Ou Mountains

Okina-san Map

Okina-san in Obanazawa City.

Yamabushi Newsletter

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

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” — Gassan
  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

References

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Little-known aspects of Japan and Japanese culture from a mountain ascetic. Sign up to my newsletter for more: https://www.timbunting.com/newsletter.

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Little-known aspects of Japan and Japanese culture from a mountain ascetic. Sign up to my newsletter for more: https://www.timbunting.com/newsletter.