Snowcapped Mount Goyō: Winter on Sanriku’s Highest Peak
JapanIn videoGuide to Japan Travel
It is said that fishing boats returning to ports along the Sanriku coast from Pacific waters look to the summit of Mount Goyō to guide their journey home. Although some 13 kilometers inland, the 1,351-meter high mountain, the tallest along the rugged coastline, is the first land to come into view.
In ancient times, craggy outcroppings like hinode-iwa that jut from the wooded slopes of Mount Goyō drew mountain ascetics by their imposing presence, inspiring religious devotion. There are also several small mountain shrines near the summit associated with the larger Goyōzan and Hie Shrines, affirming the site’s religious importance.
Hikers throng to the mountains from spring to autumn to enjoy the many flowering plants that bloom along hiking trails. However, come winter the paths close and only the most dedicated climbers ascend the icy tracks. On a clear day, it is possible to see Mount Hayachine in the Kitakami Mountains and Mount Iwate, and even as far as Mount Chōkai towering in the distance toward the Sea of Japan.
Getting there: About a 30-minute taxi ride from Sakari Station on the Ōfunato bus line to Akasaka Pass, from where it takes about another two hours to reach the summit. Visitors must file a mountaineering plan at Akasaka Pass. Another hiking path starts at Kamiarisu-hiyama, Sumita, on the opposite side of the mountain. The trails are closed during the winter.
(Originally published in Japanese. Video created by Bunkazai Kyodō and the Kesen Cultural Preservation Committee. Banner photo: The Goyōzan Shrine near the summit of Mount Goyō.)