Travel to the foot of the steep hill of Hōshū-yama to see why Risshaku-ji Temple has been listed as a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty and Historic Site. Found in 860 by a priest named Ennin (posthumously known as Jikaku Daishi), to this day the temple maintains its ritual fires brought from a Tendai monastery. Your visit starts with a 1,000-step climb through dense cedar trees; upon your arrival, notice the seated wooden image of the Buddha Bhaisajyaguru, dating from the Heian period (794-1185). Enter the temple to examine its many cultural assets in the treasure house; afterwards, head to the museum displaying haiku poet Matsuo Bashō's writings and paintings, as well as other related art. Remember to carry extra water, since the ascent to the temple can get tiring. To visit Risshaku-ji Temple and other attractions in Yamagata, use our Yamagata itinerary planner.
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Risshaku-ji Temple reviews
Well worth the hike up. I would recommend wearing spikes up in the snow as it was slippery. Easy hike on the steps and takes maybe 20/30 minutes. more »
We came here last winter but the stairs were iced and honestly a slipping hazard. This year it was warmer so there wasn't any ice on the steps, and it's the perfect temperature where you won't work... more »
This temple is truly beautiful when seen from Yamadera Station at the foot of the mountain, but at the mountain-top, the surrounding views are a sight to behold. In winter, everything is blanketed with snow, making the place look like a winter wonderland. Views of the snow covered streets below and surrounding mountains are picturesque and look like a monochromatic painting. Indeed the most beautiful temple I have been to in the whole of Japan. Definitely worth a visit!!
Yamadera, also known as Risshaku-ji, is a temple complex on a mountainside in Yamagata. It was founded in 860 and is designated by Japan as a scenic and historical site. It is beautiful in the winter, so it is no surprise that Basho, a famous poet, was inspired by it's beauty and serenity. Just be careful taking the ice-covered steps up the mountain. It’s a small hike up but most folks should have no problems making the trip.
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