Yama-Dera (Hōjusan Risshakuji Temple)
Climb 1015 Stone Steps to Reach the Top to Worship! A Temple Said to Cut Out Bad Relationships.
This mountain temple, of the Tendai sect of Buddhism, is properly known as “Hōjusan Risshakuji Temple.”
It is a historical place, founded in 860 by Jikaku Daishi.
It is believed that, with each step you take up the 1015 stone steps, your worldly desires are purged. Furthermore, it has also been worshipped since ancient times as a temple that helps to cut out bad relationships and forge good bonds.
There are many buildings at the mountain’s summit, but the building at the beginning of the ascent, known as “Konponchuudo,” is a nationally designated cultural artifact. The large beechwood structure is said to be the oldest building in Japan.
Within the building is a wooden statue of the seated healing Buddha that has existed here for over 1000 years, allowing visitors to bask in the light of Buddhism.
It is said that the poet “Matsuo Basho” wrote 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, and there is a monument to this event called “Semi-zuka,” or “Cicada Mound,” to commemorate it along the way to the summit.
After climbing about 800 steps, visitors will come across Daibutsuden, where a golden statue of Amida Nyorai standing over 5 meters tall is enshrined, and the inner sanctuary.
The climb to the mountain’s summit takes from 40 minutes to an hour, but when you complete the climb you are greeted with a beautiful view and a feeling of refreshing accomplishment. The stunning view from “Godaigo” on the cliff is a particular must-see.
As visitors must climb 1015 stone steps to reach the summit, be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
This is a famous temple where the poet Matsuo Basho wrote a famous verse.
”Konpochuudo” has been designated as a nationally designated cultural artifact.
Take in a beautiful view from Godaigo along the cliff.
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- Name in Japanese
- Postal Code
- 4456-1 Yamadera, Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture
- Business Hours
- Open every day (Inner sanctum of Risshakuji closed during the winter)
- Admission fee
- 300 yen
- 6-minute walk from the JR Yamadera Station
- Official Website
- Official Website (Japanese)