First visit to Dewa Sanzan (出羽三山) in Tsuruoka (鶴岡), in northwest of Yamagata Prefecture, not for fall foliage but for 3 famous sacred mountains. Visited 2 of them in this trip.
This is the mountain which opens all year round and is easily accessible by bus to the mountain top, where there is a Haguro-san Shrine (三神合祭殿), which houses the deities of the 3 Dewa Sanzan shrines. At the foothill, there is a 5-storied pagoda (五重塔) and the Zuishinmon (随神門), where the approach to the Haguro-san trail begins.
The other sacred mountain symbolizing “rebirth”. Drove via a toll road and took a shuttle bus and started a short walk to the inner shrine. The inner shrine area prohibits photography – all the photos were taken outside of that area, and where all visitors are required to follow a purification ritual on bare feet. This is unique among all the shrines I have visited in Japan.