Yamadera, its official name is Risshakuji Temple, is a temple located in Yamagata prefecture. Yamadera literally means “mountain temple.” As the name describes, Yamadera stands along the steep mountain, and there are 1,015 steps towards the main building “Okunoin.” It is pretty much work to climb such number of stairs in a mountain. However, it turned out to be the best temple I have ever visited.
Yamadera was founded in AD860 (it’s surprising, over a thousand years ago!) by the priest Jikaku Daishi. Yamadera is also known for a visit by the famous poet Matsuo Basho. He composed one of the most famous poem here in Yamadera.
Once you get off the Yamadera Station, you will see a map. The map shows the way to the entrance of the mountain and the path is pretty clear, so I think there is no worry to get lost. It’s about 5 minutes walk from the station.
Once you reach the entrance, the journey to climb 1,015 steps starts.
Climb 1,015 steps to the top of Yamadera
To get an astonishing view from the top, you will have to climb 1,015 steps. There are stone lanterns and Jizo statues in the surrounding forests which make an atmospheric hike and never get bored.
Also, there are few sights to stop by. Such as the Basho’s stone introduced above and few others. It takes about an hour to hour half to the top if you walk and stop by such sights.
Get the fantastic view at Godaido
After climbing thousand some steps, you will reach a place like a plaza.
You will get this famous view of Yamadera here.
Finally, you will reach Godaido Hall. This wooden porch gives you sweeping views of the surrounding mountains.
Also, do not forget to visit Okunoin temple at the back. Note that the building is closed during winter so you can not see inside, but accepting visitors.
Climbing Yamadera, Risshakuji Temple was a memorable experience, and it was definitely one of the highlights of my visit to Tohoku. I strongly recommend this place to anyone who visits Yamagata Prefecture.
For lunch, I’d like to recommend visiting Soba Kaido, Soba Street, and taste Ita Soba, a local cuisine of Yamagata.
Check out this article for details:
Try “Real Soba” at The Soba Street in Yamagata, Tohoku