3 Best Sights in Yamadera, Tohoku

Ginzan Onsen

Fodor's choice

Ginzan is another relaxing hot spring close to both Yamagata and Sendai, but this one is more isolated than Sakunami. It's about two to three hours from Sendai by bus, but probably more accessible from JR Oishida Station using the Hanagasa-Go bus, which takes about 45 minutes depending on the season.

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Risshaku-ji Temple

Fodor's choice

Yamadera is like something conjured out of the ethereal mists of an ancient Japanese charcoal painting. Built in the year AD 860, Yamadera's complex of temples including Risshaku-ji, is perched high on the upper slopes of Mt. Hoju (Hoju-san), from where you can enjoy divine vistas. 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 Chudo 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 may 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.

Sakunami Onsen


If you're looking for a stopover between Yamadera and Sendai, this hot spring area (with five hotels) is five minutes by free bus from JR Sakunami Station. Sakunami is only 39 minutes (¥500) by local express from Sendai Station, close enough to be an alternative spot to spend the night, but not convenient. There are also free tours (in Japanese only) at the nearby Nikka Whisky distillery here.

16 Sakunami Azamotoki, Sendai, 989-3431, Japan
022-395–2211-Iwamatsu Ryokan
Sight Details
Rate Includes: ¥1,270 weekdays, ¥1,570 weekends for entry to Iwamatsu ryokan\'s baths, Entry to the baths after about 3 pm is restricted to the ryokan\'s guests

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