• Yama-dera's photo

Yama-dera

Yamagata


A Buddhist power spot where you can break free from bad luck!

In Buddhism, mountains are a place for monks to train, and are thought of as sacred by many people. This spot, popularly called Yama-dera, is accessible by a long mountain trail that stretches from the trailhead to the summit. Along the trail are more than 30 temples of the Tendai Buddhist sect, making it one of the foremost power spots in Yamagata. The mountain had its first Buddhist temple built in the year 860 by the great Buddhist teacher Ennin (known as Jikaku Daishi), and enshrines Yakushi Nyorai – the Buddha of healing and medicine. The stone stairs leading up to the summit number 1,015 steps! Legend has it that climbing the long road and pay homage at the temples will break your bad luck.

  • Yama-dera's photo
  • Yama-dera's photo

Natural beauty that enchanted Matsuo Basho, the master of haiku

A solemn atmosphere wafts over the deep, luxuriant greenery of Yama-dera. Matsuo Basho, the haiku master was enchanted by this natural beauty. “Calm and serene. The sound of a cicada. Penetrates the rock.” This poem, known to all Japanese people, was composed by Basho in 1689 when he visited Yama-dera. It describes how moved he was by hearing only the sound of a cicada echoing across the silent wood. A number of stone monuments bearing Basho’s words line the mountain path. The view from Godaido near the summit offers the best scenery. From the stage-like hall of the temple sticking out from the mountain, one can see the towns in the foothills and the surrounding mountain range.

  • Yama-dera's photo
  • Yama-dera's photo

Nighttime visits to the temple in the summer, and snowy visits in the winter

Although the springtime cherry blossoms and autumn foliage of Yama-dera is beautiful, summer and winter make for visits that are out of the ordinary. From 6 pm to 9 pm in the summer, the path leading up to the temple is illuminated for nighttime Buddhist chants. It is said that in times past, it was the peculiar custom in Yamagata to climb up to the inner temple at night and descend the next morning. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the winter offers a carpet of silver across the world. The snow absorbs sounds, enveloping the entire mountain in silence. Snow is cleared from the mountain path, making it possible to climb, however, some of the buildings are closed, and shoes with a sure grip should be worn to keep from slipping on the path.

  • Yama-dera's photo
  • Yama-dera's photo
  • Yama-dera's photo
  • Yama-dera's photo
  • Yama-dera's photo
  • Yama-dera's photo
  • Yama-dera's photo
  • Yama-dera's photo

For reference

  • Address
    4456-1 Yamadera, Yamagata-shi, Yamagata-ken
  • Telephone
    023-695-2816
  • Open
    365 days a year from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Price
    300 yen
  • Recommended seasons
    Summer, for the new greenery and nighttime chants, and winter for the beautiful snow.
  • Website

Access

Shonai Airport is a one hour flight from Haneda Airport.
From the Shonai Airport, take the Shonai Bus to Sakata Station (40 min). From Sakata Station, take the JR Rikuu West Line to Shinjo Station (50 min). From there, transfer to the Yamagata Shinkansen and get off at Yamagata Station (50 min). At Yamagata Station, transfer to the JR Senzan Line and get off at Yamadera Station (20 min). From the station it is a five minute walk.

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