Tohoku Sights

Risshaku-ji (Risshaku Temple)

  • Yamadera 4456–1 Map It
  • Yamagata
  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Published 09/12/2014

Fodor's Review

If you are expecting just another mundane temple, you will certainly be surprised. Yamadera is like something conjured out of the ethereal mists of an ancient Japanese charcoal painting. Built in the year 860, Yamadera's ambitious complex of temples is perched high on the upper slopes of Mt. Hoju (Hoju-san), from where you can enjoy divine vistas. Belonging to the Tendai Buddhists, who believe in the existence of "Buddha-nature" within all living things, Yamadera attracts a steady stream of pilgrims. Just inside the temple-complex entrance is Konpon Chudo, the temple where the sacred Flame of Belief has burned constantly for 1,100 years. Near Konpon Chūdō is a statue of the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho (1644–94), whose pithy and colorful haiku related his extensive wanderings throughout Japan. During a visit to the temple, he wrote, "Stillness... the sound of cicadas sinks into the rocks" and buried the poem on the spot.

The path continues up many steps—nearly 1,100

of them, well tended though they be. At the summit is Oku no In, the hall dedicated to the temple founder, Jikaku Daishi. But if you've come this far, keep going. Of all the temples hanging out over the valley, the view from Godaido is the best. The path becomes crowded in summer and slippery in winter.

To get to the temple complex from Yamadera's JR Station, walk through the village, cross the bridge, and turn right. Allow 1 to 1½ hours for a leisurely climb up and a careful tramp down.

Read More

Sight Information


Yamadera 4456–1, Yamagata, Yamagata-ken, 999-3301, Japan

Map It



Sight Details:

  • ¥300
  • 8:30-5

Published 09/12/2014


Map View

Map of

What's Nearby

  • Sights
  • Hotels

Add Your Own Review

When did you go?

Minimum 200 character count

How many stars would you give?




Don't Miss


No Thanks

Love To Travel?

Get FREE e-mail communications from Fodor's Travel, covering must-see travel destinations, expert trip planning advice, and travel inspiration to fuel your passion.

Thank You

Now sit back, relax, and check your inbox to start planning your next travel adventure.

Please tell us more about the type of travel you're interested in. Check all that apply.