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Largest City

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.

The mountain temple

Yamadera Temple

Make your way up the 1,000 steps.

Yamagata’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. However, the temple is a photographer’s dream at any time of the year.

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 quiet pathway 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.

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.

Quite the view

Yamadera Temple

The view from Yamadera Mountain Temple.

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.

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.

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Things To Know


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

How To Get There


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

Tendo Onsen Sakaeya Hotel
  • 2-3-16 Kamata, Tendo-shi, Yamagata, 994-0024 Japan
  • ¥15,400 - ¥15,400
  • 4/5 (341 reviews)
  • 6.5 km
Shohakutei Azumaso
  • 2-2-1 Kamata, Tendo-shi, Yamagata, 994-0024 Japan
  • ¥15,989 - ¥25,916
  • 4.41/5 (516 reviews)
  • 6.6 km
Tendo Hotel
  • 2-1-3 Kamatahoncho, Tendo-shi, Yamagata, 994-0025 Japan
  • ¥15,180 - ¥16,445
  • 4.63/5 (947 reviews)
  • 7.0 km
Tendo Onsen Hotel Ohsho
  • 1-1-14 Kamatahoncho, Tendo-shi, Yamagata, 994-0025 Japan
  • ¥8,800 - ¥8,800
  • 3.77/5 (327 reviews)
  • 7.0 km

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