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  • Yamagata

Yamadera Hojuzan Risshaku-ji Temple

A mountaintop temple for ascetic training and a center of worship that offers great views of rural Japan

Officially known as Hojuzan Risshaku-ji, Yamadera was founded in 860. At the base of the mountain sits the main Konpon Chudo Hall, a designated important cultural property of Japan, followed by the 1,015 stone steps that lead to the summit. It is a form of ascetic training that leaves your worldly desires behind as you ascend each step. The views of the mountains and surrounding villages from the mountaintop are truly captivating.

Begin the path with the Konpon Chudo Hall at the foot of the mountain

The main Konpon Chudo Hall at Risshaku-ji was founded as a branch temple of Enryaku-ji, a Tendai monastery located on Mount Hiei in Shiga Prefecture, and is believed to be the oldest beech wood building in Japan. Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of healing and medicine, is enshrined together with a ritual flame that remains lit since it was brought over from Enryaku-ji 1,200 years ago. There is a Hotei statue at the entrance to the main hall which visitors rub for good health.

The 1,015 stone steps that lead to the summit

Past the Konpon Chudo Hall, you will find the Sanmon Gate, which is the entrance to the 1,015 stone steps leading up to the summit. Going up each of these steps is believed to purify your body and release worldly desires one by one. The path is dotted with many natural rocks where monks used to train, as well as the Semi-zuka (cicada mound) monument where the great 17th-century haiku poet Matsuo Basho buried his poem written on a strip of paper while walking the path. Climbing about 800 stone steps that takes you around 30 minutes will bring you to Okunoin, where Daibutsuden that enshrines the golden Amitabha statue is located.

Lose yourself in the breathtaking views from the peak

As you go further, there is a small red temple perched on a steep cliff called Hyakujo-iwa. Behind the temple is the Godaido, which has a stage-like deck that offers the best scenery. Climbing up the challenging 1,015 stone steps is well worth the effort with the rewarding panoramic views of the towns in the foothills and the surrounding mountain range. The beautiful landscapes of Yamadera can be enjoyed throughout the year with cherry blossoms in spring, fresh greenery in summer, colorful leaves in autumn and snow-covered scenery in winter.


Name Yamadera Hojuzan Risshaku-ji Temple
Website https://www.tohokukanko.jp/en/attractions/detail_1339.html
Address 4456-1 Yamadera, Yamagata-shi, Yamagata
Access Approximately 10 minutes' walk from Yamadera Station on the JR Senzan Line
Approximately 2 hours' drive from Shonai Airport
Approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes' drive from Sendai Airport
Business Hours 8:00 to 17:00
Inquiries TEL: 023-695-2843 (Yamadera Tourism Association)
Admission Adult and high school student: 300 yen; Junior high school student: 200 yen; Child ages 4 to elementary school student: 100 yen

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