Climbing mountains were originally a part of training for Japanese people although it is currently considered a hobby or sport. The idea of training in a mountain came from “shintoism” which considers everything as gods, and “buddhism” which idealizes ascetic practices for enlightenment. The training is called “shugendo” which means the path for training.
Oga Peninsula has “shugendo,” and “oyamakake.” Which are events for climbing the 3 mountains in Oga. The mountainous paths were originally for shugendo practitioners, but they have spread among ordinary people as well during the Edo period (about 400 years ago) and many people actively take on the challenge of these paths. Oyamakake still remains today as a rite of passage among kids in Oga.
The paths for oyamakake are 10km in total, and some of the paths have many ups and downs even though the overall height of the mountain is not that high. The path starting from the Kamiyama shrine consists of steps and cedar forests. After passing the Gosha palace, a part of the cultural heritage in Akita Prefecture, the path gets harder but comes close to the end. Though the course passes through the forest, the ocean can seen from the path and allows you to feel the wind and hear the sounds of the sea.
Near the goal, there are 999 stone steps that are said to have been made by Oni (legendary demon) in a single night. While climbing up the steps, you can feel the history and legend of the Oga Peninsula. (Please refer to the next page for the lengendary story of Oga.)