Yamato Sanzan

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Yamato Sanzan

Yamato Sanzan (大和三山, Three Hillls of Yamato) are located near the city of Kashihara in Nara Prefecture, Kansai Region.

These three mountains are Unebiyama, Amanokagushima and Miminashiyama. All three of them are formed of igneous rock and are mentioned in the Man’yōshū.1

Mount Unebi

    • Co-ordinates: 34°29′32.5″N135°47′06″E
    • Height: 199.2m

Mount Unebi (畝傍山), also known as Jimyō-ji San, is according to tradition where Emperor Jimmu both lived and was buried here. At the peak of the mountain the Shinto shrine, Kashiwabara-jingu, was constructed in his honor in 1889. Close by are the tombs supposedly for the Emperors Annei and Itoku.2 Prince Kamiyawimimi is said to have been buried on its northern side.4

Mount Kagu

    • Co-ordinates: 34°29′43.5″N135°49′05.5″E
    • Height: 152.4m
    • Location: East of Kashihara city.3

Time of the kami

Mount Kagu (香具山 – Mount Gleaming/Mount Hanging) is said to have descended from Heaven to Earth and is stated to be home of the kami Nakisawame, who lives at the base of the tree trunks there according to the Kojiki.

The mountain is later mentioned in Kojiki after Amaterasu hides in the Sacred Rock Cave. A stag is gathered from here and used for divination by Ameno Futodama and Ameno Koyane while the kami figure out how to coax her from the cave. A sacred tree is also taken from here from which a sacred mirror and magatama are hung from. This tree is later used in the attempt to get Amaterasu to leave the cave.3 An alternative version of the Nihongi says Ishikoridome gathered copper from here to form a Sun Spear to help in bringing her from the cave.4

Reign of Emperor Sujin

During the reign of this Emperor, it is said Atabime (wife of Takehaniyasuhiko) was seen taking soil from here. She places it in her neckerchief and turns it over saying that it symbolised the land of Yamato. This was taken as proof she and her husband were going to attack the Emperor and try and overturn his rule.4


One poem concerning Mount Kagu can be found in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu and goes as follows:

Japanese text6
Romanized Japanese5
English translation5
Haru sugite
natsu kinikerashi
shirotae no
koromo hosu chō
ama no Kaguyama
Spring has passed,
and the white robes of summer
are being aired
on fragrant Mount Kagu -
beloved of the gods.

Mount Miminashi

    • Co-ordinates: 34°30′53″N135°48′20″E
    • Height: 139.7


1. Kodansha. (1993) ”Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia”. Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd.
2. Louis Frederic, translated by Kathe Roth (2002) “Japan Encyclopedia”. London: Harvard University Press.
3. Yasumaro. O, translated by Gustav Heldt. (2014) “Kojiki. An Account of Ancient Matters”. New York: Columbia University Press.
4. Aston. W.G. (1896) “Nihongi Volume 1: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to AD697″. Tuttle Publishing.
5. MacMillan, P. (2018) ”One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each: A Treasury of Classical Japanese Verse”. St. Ives: Penguin Classics.
6. Suzuki, H. et al. (1997) ”Genshoku: Ogura Hyakunin Isshu”. Tokyo: Bun’eidō.

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Yamato Sanzan