Yamadera – Yamagata | Travel information

Yamadera Main Hall

Hojuzan Risshaku Temple, more commonly referred to as Yamadera(山寺), is a unique cluster of temples that scale up the side of a rather steep mountain. The more popular name of Yamadera literally translates to mountain temple. It can be found a short train ride from the center of Yamagata city and is a must see location for anyone visiting the Tohoku region.

Yamadera was believed to be founded in 860 following the undet the Tendai Sect of Buddhism. 

In the temples early years, Matsuo Basho – a famous Japanese poet, wrote the famous haiku “Shizukasa ya/iwa ni shimi iru/semi no koe”, meaning Deep silence, The shrill of cicadas, Seep into rocks. Basho noticed a distinct stillness in the area – the calming and relaxing nature of Yamadera, and as  wrote the Haiku, which can be found etched in stone found at the grounds in the lower region of the temple.

In the lower regions of the temple, guests can find treasure hall, as well as Konponchudo Hall – the mall hall for this temple. Inside the main hall is a flame that is said to have been burning for over 1,200 years and remains a lit from the temples founding in the 860’s.

To climb up the mountain further, you will have to pay 300JPY, but you will be met with stunning views of the valley from the upper halls, but to reach this area, you will have to climb over 1,000 stone stairs in order to reach the top. It takes the average person 20-30 minutes to complete.

View from Yamadera over looking the mountains covered in thick pine trees

The best views can be seen from Godaido Hall, which is an observation area near the mountains summit. The Godaido Hall was founded in the 1700’s and is one of the more newer additions to the Yamadera Temple complex. You can also find Kaisando Hall and Nokyodo, both of which are famous buildings in the Yamadera temple area, as they are dedicated to important figureheads that were essential to this temples founding.

The base area of the mountain has plenty of refreshments and with food and drinks all available to purchase at your leisure.

Hours and Admission

Accessing Yamadera

Yamadera can easily be accessed from Yamagata city via a 20 minute train ride, following the JR Senzan (Rapid Sendai – Platform 7) to Yamadera Station. This is the 3rd stop on this service. You can also take the Local Sendai service from Yamagata Station, which will take slightly longer with 2 extra stops. This will cost 240JPY one way.

From Sendai, the journey will take about an hour on the Rapid Yamagata train on the Senzan Line from Sendai Station. This trip will cost 860JPY.

Both journeys will be covered for free with a Japan Rail Pass.

Where To Stay

Yamagata is the closest major city, and all hotels here can be found in Yamagata City.

Hotel Metropolitan Yamagata

Spacious and modern economy hotel that provides quality rooms at a good price.

Yamagata Eki Nishiguchi Washington

Affordable hotel located near the cities center, great for those travelling in a pair.

APA Hotel Yamagata Ekimae Odori

Nationally recognized hotel chain famed for quality service at a quality price.

Yamagata Eki Nishiguchi Washington

Affordable hotel located near the cities center, great for those travelling in a pair.

APA Hotel Yamagata Ekimae Odori

Nationally recognized hotel chain famed for quality service at a quality price.

Nearby Attractions

Ginzan Onsen

Serene Onsen (hot spring) town located in Yamagata Prefecture, popular in the winter.

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The JR Rail Pass makes getting around the country easy, and can save you several hundreds in travel expenses. All you need to do is just show your pass at the ticket gate, and you have access to any and all JR rail lines across the country, and not just the standard commuter trains, but luxury trains, and even the world famous Shinkansen (Bullet Train). A JR Rail Pass is an essential item for any visitor to Japan. Buy your pass today by clicking here now!

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