AreaNear Miyagi

Yamadera

立石寺 | Risshakuji Temple

A sacred place in the mountains of Yamagata

Photo by Justin Velgus

Photo by Aliise Donnere

Photo by Roger Smith

Photo by Aliise Donnere

  • Aliise Eisho Donnere

    Writer

    Last Update
    February 1, 2019

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  • Yamadera is one of the most impressive spiritual sites in Japan. It is a breathtaking temple complex located just over the border in neighboring Yamagata Prefecture. The dramatic views of prayer halls perched atop cliffs will take your breath awayas will the thousand-plus steps it takes to climb to the top! Yamadera is stunning at any time of year, but perhaps especially so when the leaves change color in autumn.

    The official name of this temple in the mountains is Risshakuji. This one thousand-year-old temple belongs to the Tendai sect of Esoteric Buddhism. It was founded by Jikaku Taishi, who also established Zuiganji Temple in Matsushima and the temples Chusonji and Motsuji in Hiraizumi.

    A visit to Yamadera usually starts at Yamadera Station. The temple complex, sitting atop a cliff, is clearly visible from the platform. While moving through the small town of Yamadera to reach the base, you can enjoy some traditional foods the town is famous for, like Yamagata’s famous handmade soba, or konnyaku balls with hot mustard.

    Yamadera is divided into a base section, which can be easily accessed, and a mountain section that requires some physical stamina. The mountain section consists of a thousand-step staircase through a serene forest, past interesting stone sculptures, intimate prayer halls, and rock formations. When you reach Godaido near the top, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the valley and town below.

    I strongly recommend making it up to Godaido! From this ancient wooden observation deck you can see the surrounding mountains, and I bet you will understand why the famous poet Basho was so mesmerized by this place. Also, animals approach the temple complex without any fear. There are wild monkeys running around, and sometimes even Japanese serows (goat-antelopes).

    WEBSITEhttps://www.rissyakuji.jp/

  • AreaNear Miyagi

    Tags

    Autumn Do & See History Nature Near Miyagi Temples & Shrines

Details

ADDRESS

4456-1 Yamadera, Yamagata-shi, Yamagata-ken 999-3301

ACCESS BY PUBLIC TRANSIT

7-min. walk from Yamadera Station (Senzan Line)

ADMISSION

300 yen

CREDIT CARDS

Not accepted

LANGUAGES

Limited English

HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE

No

HOURS

Generally 8:00–17:00; autumn–winter 8:00–15:30 (varies according to season)

CLOSED DAYS

None

PHONE

023-695-2816 (Yamadera Tourism Association)

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