Risshakuji Temple

A meditative climb to a temple with a breathtaking view

宝珠山 立石寺 | Risshakuji Temple (Yamadera)

Photo by Roger Smith

Photo by Roger Smith

Photo by Roger Smith

Photo by Roger Smith

Founded in 860, Risshakuji is the official name for the temple complex popularly known as “Yamadera,” or “mountain temple.” Often hailed as one of the most scenic temples in Japan, visitors will need to climb over 1000 stone steps in the middle of a forest to get to the uppermost hall. The journey itself is meant to be a meditative experience, and you’ll find scenic stopping points along the way.

Risshakuji offers breathtaking views in every season, so visitors will want to stop at Godaido Hall on their trek up the mountain for an unparalleled outlook on the valley. In the winter, particularly, the stillness of the snow-covered treetops invites visitors to stop and reflect on their journey for a while.

Other points of note include Kaizando, or the Founder’s Hall, dedicated to Ennin (Jikaku Daishi), an influential priest of the Tendai school of Buddhism who founded Risshakuji.

Reviews from Google Maps

Very scenic view, and a great short hike. Worth going to especially in the winter.

Sergey Smith ★★★★★

The highlight of our latest trip to Japan. A great climb through a beautifully scented forest full of small shrines, and a stunning view from the top. Allow yourself a couple hours to explore this place thoroughly, since there are a lot of small areas to see.

Stephanie Sandercock ★★★★★



4456-1 Yamadera, Yamagata, 999-3301


300 yen (to enter upper area of the temple)


Generally 8:00–17:00; Autumn–Winter 8:00–15:30 (varies according to season)


Not required


Open 365 days a year


023-695-2816 (Yamadera Tourism Association)

Official URL