Region
Tohoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Yamagata
Population
1,244,040

Yamadera Temple

One thousand steps to Yamagata’s most iconic spot.

Built over 1,000 years ago, Yamadera Temple is one of northern Japan’s most picturesque spots and a must-visit destination in the Tohoku region.

Yamadera Temple in Yamagata is a good hiking and autumn spot in Japan.

Yamadera Temple is a photographer’s dream in any season.

Yamagata Prefecture’s “mountain temple” as it translates to, can be best enjoyed during the winter when the nearby mountains are submerged in a sea of white, or during Autumn, when the area bursts into color. Regardless of the time of year, the temple is a photographer’s dream.

From Yamadera Station, it’s only a five-minute walk to reach the base of the temple, where you can begin your ascent. The quiet atmosphere makes Yamadera a spiritual escape.

Hiking Yamadera

The gentle ascent to the top of Yamadera Temple.

The ascent up the mountain’s 1,000 steps typically takes between 20 and 30 minutes. It’s not a difficult climb, but the journey through the forest is half the adventure. Eye-catching shrines and amusing statues placed carefully along the route compliment stone lanterns leading the way.

Yamadera Temple Statues Yamagata Japan

Photo by: Randiah Camille Green We think she’s thirsty.

Along the path, you’ll see many temples and landmarks such as the Mida Hora stone carved walls, or the Niomon Gate standing a bit further away. At the very top of the hike is the Kaisando Hall which is dedicated to the temple founder, Jikaku Daishi.

Once you arrive at Yamadera Temple midway up, the reward is a stunning view overlooking the Tachiya River, with its verdant mountains and vast neighboring valley.

Hiking Yamadera Temple in Yamagata Prefecture Japan

Photo by: Randiah Camille Green The view from the Godaido observatory deck over Yamagata City is breathtaking.

Take the path on the right of Kaisando Hall, which will take you to the Godaido, an observatory deck with the best view of Yamagata City’s south valley.

On the way back, stop in at any of the souvenir shops lining the street from the temple to Yamadera Station for unique ice cream flavors like pineapple and cherry (which Yamagata is known for), a much-needed refreshment after your climb.

Dig Japanese history? Read more on where to find historic gems.

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Trivia

Find poetic inspiration at Yamadera Mountain Temple in Yamagata

Yamagata

Winter is coming. But so is spring, summer and fall at this rewarding year-round destination.

More

Things To Know

Fees

From the base of the mountain, it costs ¥300 to start your ascent.

How To Get There

Address

Japan, 〒999-3301 Yamagata-ken, Yamagata-shi, Yamadera, 立石寺本坊

By train

The closest station is Yamadera Station which is served by the JR Senzan line, connecting Yamagata City and Sendai.

If you are traveling from Tokyo, head to Sendai Station first and then continue on to Yamadera Station via the Senzan line.

By bus

You can catch a night bus from Tokyo to Yamagata Station and then take the train to Yamadera. This route takes at least six hours, though it will be slightly cheaper.

By car

Despite the five-hour drive from Tokyo, traveling by car is also a very convenient and incredibly cheap way to go to Yamadera temple.

Where To Stay

Sakaeya Hotel
  • Kamata 2-3-16 Tendo-Shi, Yamagata 994-0024
  • 7.4/10
  • 6.5 km
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Shouhakutei Azumaso
  • Kamata 2-2-1 Tendo-Shi, Yamagata 994-0024
  • 8.5/10
  • 6.6 km
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Hotel Route-Inn Tendo
  • Kamata 1-13-22 Tendo-Shi, Yamagata 994-0024
  • 7.7/10
  • 6.7 km
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Ichiraku
  • Kamatahoncho 2-2-21 Tendo-Shi, Yamagata 994-0025
  • 7.8/10
  • 6.8 km
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