Yamadera in Yamagata Prefecture, with Stunning Scenery Throughout the Seasons

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Yamadera is located in Yamagata City of Yamagata Prefecture. The temple’s official name is Houjusan Risshakuji Temple. This ancient temple has been worshipped for many years, and it is believed that climbing the 1015 stone steps to worship at the summit helps to cut bad relationship ties. The temple offers stunning scenery throughout each season of the year, so enjoy this showcase of the seasonal views!

Spring

When the snow melts away and the flowers’ breath can be felt against your skin, spring has arrived. From mid to late April, you can see a few cherry trees in bloom at the temple. The climate is lovely at this time of year, making it the perfect time to go mountain climbing.

Konponchuudo, cherry blossoms
Konponchuudo, cherry blossoms

Summer

Summer is bursting with beautiful and fresh greenery. The sounds of nature are at their most active during summer, including the voices of cicadas, which Matsuo Basho wrote about in his famous verse “shizukesa ya iwa ni shimi-iru semi no koe (deep silence; the shrill of cicadas seeps into rocks)” at this very temple. You can wear regular clothes on a visit here during the summer, but be sure to prepare for against the heat in mind as you make the climb.

Cicada mound
Cicada mound
View from Godaido (early summer)
View from Godaido (early summer)

Autumn

Visiting during autumn is perfect, as the autumn leaves are stunning and the climate is ideal for climbing the mountain. The entirety of the mountain is dyed in shades of red and yellow, particularly late into October. The temple grounds are also lit up at night when the autumn leaves are at their finest. (※Entry to the mountain at night is prohibited. The lights can be seen from the foot of the mountain.)

Stone steps
Stone steps
Kaisando and the Sutra Collection
Kaisando and the Sutra Collection

Winter

Snow piles up along the ground and trees in the winter time, and the snowy scenery as you look out from Godaido or the temple grounds is absolutely stunning. However, it is not an ideal mountain climbing season for those who are not confident in their physical strength; the stone steps are dangerous and slippery with all of the snow. (Oku-no-In is closed during winter)

View of the snowy scenery from Godaido
View of the snowy scenery from Godaido
The stone steps are slippery, so be careful while climbing them in winter
The stone steps are slippery, so be careful while climbing them in winter

Yamadera is sure to feature stunning scenery throughout the seasons, whenever you choose to visit. Chow down on the local delicacy “chikara kon’nyaku” and climb your way up the 1015 stone steps!

Chikara kon’nyaku
Chikara kon’nyaku