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Today I’ve been pushed mentally, physically, spiritually and mentally (again).
This is the doing of Ryotaro.
I wish I’d never told him I was going a 2,000km cycle.
If you think you can do a 2,000km you’re fucking crazy mate.
- I’m not crazy.
- It’s a screw it just do it mentality. Just do it.
That’s why I brought you here.To test you through fire, water and earth
.- It sounds like you’re going to roll me in some mud and set fire to me. Something like that.
One day.
So this is Yudono-san, a very sacred and secretive shrine nestled in the mountains of Yamagata.
I lived near here for 3 years but I never actually came here. It’s quite difficult to find,
it’s quite difficult to get to due to the secluded, secretive nature of the shrine.
I’ve been meaning to come here.
But it’s only today when Ryotaro’s dragging me into some sort of training practice, that
I’ve finally had the excuse to come here and do something.
Don’t know what we’re doing.
We're going to find out in a bit.
Earlier this year Ryotaro and I visited a secluded mountain temple of Haguro just outside
the city of Tsuruokua in Yamagata.
It was here we trekked in silence through snow covered forests in a meditative practice
to bring us into the moment.
It was honestly one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve had all year.
Haguro is just one of three sacred mountains in the region and now in the height of summer
we’ve returned to visit the other two. And today we’ve come to conquer Gassan a 2,000
metre mountain representing Death. And Mount Yudono, the holiest of the three mountains
which represents rebirth.
So we’re kitted out in Shiroshozoku which literally means white clothing.
When people pass away in Japan they’re wrapped up in white cloth so it represent deaths.
I feel dead because of these sandals.
This outfit is actually really nice because it’s a really hot day.
But the sandals are made of what can only be described as rope and it’s tearing straight
through my feet.
- And torturing you?
Yeah this is tantamount to torture.
- Your feet is too big and you’re too heavy that’s all.
Thanks mate.
Always a nice man, always full of compliments.
So this is the starting point to Yudono san mountain.
We’re going to go and prayer under the waterfall.
- A waterfall?
A waterfall.
- Yes!
See on a normal day diving under a waterfall with clothes on would be no.
But today yes!
Because it’s 33 degrees.
And we’re going to be praying in front of fire.
Lots of praying in front of water and fire so it’ll be a nice day.
- You don’t sound so convinced.
Let’s go.
Trudging upstream wearing the rope sandals of despair, I’d shortly come to
regret my comments on the waterfall once I discovered our somewhat minimalistic outfits.
So we’re now going into the waterfall and there’s just one problem we are facing right now.
We need to take off almost all of our clothes.
- You’re going to scare all the viewers.
You’re going to scare all the viewers.
So this is how you have to look before going into the waterfall.
- Right.
And then hit by the water from above.
How do you feel about it?
It’s a little bit revealing but it does still cover everything that needs to be covered.
Yeah it does cover everything but I don’t know - I feel really strange.
So we’ve been trekking up the mountain for 40 minutes now and we’re about to go into the waterfall.
I’m wearing literally just some undergarments - a cloth - and some rope sandals which are
extremely painful.
About 40 minutes ago when I started this climb I said to the camera that I was excited about
going into the waterfall, given how hot it is.
But having just put my foot in it several times and seen how cold it is I’m absolutely terrified.
This is water that was snow a few hours ago, melted on the top of the mountain.
So it’s extremely cold and I have no idea how I’m going to survive standing under it for a few minutes.
- So how do you feel?
Well I just put my foot into the water and in two seconds it went numb.
It’s that cold.
- Bloody hell.
How nervous are you on a scale of 1 to 10?
Numb in just a matter of seconds and overwhelmed with the burning sensation of the icy water,
I tried to and failed to join in the prayer of thanks to the mountain, in what must have
been the longest minute of my life.
I’m so numb.
How do you feel?
How dare you.
To call that cold would be an understatement.
That was the coldest water I’ve ever got in, in my entire life.
And my whole body went really numb.
I couldn’t get out.
My body was so numb after one or two minutes in the water that I had trouble getting out.
It was quite refreshing.
It was quite nice.
But I don’t know if I’d been keen to do it again.
Historically shrouded in secrecy and closed to the public, in recent years, Yamabushi
Monks have started opening up their ancient rituals to the outside world.
With more people suffering from stress than ever before, their practices have never felt more relevant.
The rituals, the meditation, the ceremonies, they all seek to create a level of awareness;
pushing you to stop, to be in the moment, and above all, to encourage you to have a
greater appreciation for the world and the people around you.
The Himatsuri fire festival, is a ceremony to honour the dead and pay respects to our ancestors.
After all, if it wasn’t for those that came before us, we wouldn’t be here ourselves.
During the ceremony participants are encouraged to write their wishes down on a wooden carving
and place it in the fire with the hope that their dreams will someday come true.
So what did you wish for at the fire festival?
Put me out of my misery.
I wished that you could complete the 2,000 km cycle.
Really? What a nice young man.
What did you really wish for?
Ok I truly wished for people to stop calling me Risottoro.
But that’s your name.
That’s who you are.
Anyway we’re on Mount Gassan - the last of the three Dewa Sanzen mountains.
I’ve never conquered it.
I always wanted to climb it.
For three years I lived on the Shonai plain and I looked up at it and wondered what it’d
be like to climb it and today that dream is about to become a reality.
It’s bonkers.
It’s the height of July, it’s 35 degrees down on the ground and there are people skiing up here.
I knew Mount Gassan gets a lot of snow, but still to see people skiing this time of year
knowing how hot it is down there, it’s a bit weird.
It’s a bit of anomaly.
Look at that.
They’ve got like hats and boots and rucksacks.
It’s like they’re climbing Mount Everest or something.
Whereas I’ve got a camera, a bottle of water, a stick and a cheese sandwich.
- And Nike Shoes for jogging. Nike shoes that have seen better days.
They need like a restaurant up here or something.
- Yeah there is.
Up at the peak.
- Yeah.
There’s an actual restaurant.
- Yes like Switzerland.
I don’t know if you’re joking or not.
- No I’m not.
You better not be, because now I feel super motivated to carry on.
Oh god.
All right, it’s starting to take its toll.
Yeah it’s a little bit tougher than I thought it’d be to be honest.
- This is the fucking beginners route mate.
Oh well.
It’s the miracle of cup noodle.
How often do you eat cup noodle?
- Once a month.
I feel very luxury having cup ramen.
Eating something like this up in the mountains.
So usually cup noodles costs about 200 yen.
But up here it’s 500 yen.
It comes at a premium.
I mean, it’s pretty lucky it’s up here in the first place.
- 550 yen!
550 yen, thank you Risottoro.
But I don’t think the cheese bread that I packed was enough anyway, so this is actually
pretty welcome.
I’ve never felt cloud this close, this much.
Coming to your face.
- You’ve never felt cloud?
I’ve never felt cloud.
This is it. This’ll be the last steep hill until the summit. mount
Welcome to the highest peak of Mount Gassan.
.- And look at that view!
- Oh wait.The white is all you see.
So we’re on the summit of the ridge that runs across the top of the mountain.
We’re thinking of flying drones but in this weather it’d be impossible.
- It’d be gone in about 5 seconds.
Absorb the wind.
Appreciate the wind.
We’re at the peak; we’re at the summit.
So Chris how do you feel now?
Spiritually, mentally, physically broken.
I only found at the end of our ridiculous climb at the bit coming down - which you can
watch at the end of the video - it was horrific and you’ll see why because it involves climbing
over a glacier in really not good shoes.
It was 600m up and 600m down but taking into account the others bits we did walking around
the mountain it was 8km.
An 8km walk.
For three years that I lived in this area, I looked at Gassan everyday and I thought
I wonder what it’s like up there?
And now I know; ridiculously cloudy.
I do feel quite happy.
I feel like I pushed myself.
Sitting behind a guy who’s lit a fire in a small wooden room that takes some degree of spirituality.
If you’re interested in doing any Yamabushi training at mountain Yudono or Mount Haguro,
you can find the details on where to stay and how to take part in the description box below.
Both mountains do have accommodation available on site.
But for now guys, as always many thanks for watching.
I hope you enjoyed our day of hell.
We’ll see you next time.
I’m off to roll over and die.
- Glacier glacier glacier
- Oh god.
Come on Chris.
I’m the only one on this mountain stupid enough to wear Nike trainers.
Everyone else has mountain boots with spikes in.
We’re going down a Glacier.
- So comment please.
Let’s never speak of ice again.
And there’d better not be more down there.
There’d better not be more.