[YouTube] Yamadera Temple – Your Best Japan Guide
What is Yamadera Temple?
Yamadera, officially called Risshakuji, is a Buddhist temple of the Tendai sect. It is located in Yamagata city in the Yamagata prefecture. Ennin, the third head priest of the Tendai sect, built it in 860. That means that this temple has over 1150 years of history.
The most characteristic feature of Yamadera Temple is the series of temples along the mountain walls. There are nearly 30 halls situated on the mountain.
Okunoin Hall is located on the mountaintop, 417 meters above ground. What awaits you there is a great vista, with a view that only people who have climbed to the top can experience.
What to See?
1. 1015 stone steps
You will need to climb 1015 stone steps to reach the top of Yamadera. This is actually meant to be part of the training process. It is meant to eliminate visitors’ greed and humble them by climbing the steps.
You can feel your heart cleansed as you climb the stone steps while listening to the wind in the leaves and the water, while surrounded by the natural beauty of the mountains.
2. Oku-no-in hall
After spending an hour climbing over 1000 steps, you will finally get to the end of your journey where the Okunoin Hall stands. Inside the hall, the statues of Shakyamuni and Prabhutaratna stand as the principal statues, which Ennin carried with him while he did his training.
Next to the Okunoin Hall, there is a Daibutsuden Hall, which enshrines a 5-meter golden statue of Amitabha.
3. Kaisando Hall and Godaido Hall
Before climbing down to the base, Kaisando Hall and Godaido Hall are two places you definitely want to visit.
A statue of Ennin has been placed in Kaisando Hall. And his remains are buried in the natural cave below the cliff.
Climbing the stairs on the right side of Kaisando Hall, you can reach Godaido Hall, which has the best view of Yamadera.
From this hall, you can see the entire Yamadera complex surrounded by nature, and you can even see the town at the foot of the mountain. It is the best place in Yamadera Temple, and all visitors should go there during their visit.
Yamadera Temple is completely surrounded by natural beauty, and you can enjoy the different sights in every season. It is a temple you should definitely visit if you ever have a chance to travel to the Tohoku area.
Did You Know?
Yamadera temple is also a famous place where Japanese eminent poet Matsuo Basho wrote one of his finest poems. You can find his statue near the entrance gate.