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“serene and beautiful”
Review of Risshaku-ji Temple

Risshaku-ji Temple
Ranked #1 of 86 things to do in Yamagata
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Level 4 Contributor
43 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“serene and beautiful”
Reviewed June 29, 2014

a stately, elegant temple on a steep hill with great views; wear good walking shoes; probably not a good site for people with mobility issues

Visited June 2014
1 Thank kathy154914
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Tokyo, Japan
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Like the path out of Rivendell”
Reviewed June 5, 2014

I've been to hundreds of temples and shrines in Japan and have never been much of a fan - even the impressive Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima didn't really grab me. Probably, I simply don't have the knowledge and 'vocabulary' to appreciate what I'm seeing. However, this is one that I'd visit again. The main draw is the magical climb and stunning view.

Exit Yamadera Station and you see rocky outcrops and temple roofs poking through the trees at the top of the steep hill ahead of you. Go over the bridge and turn left, and within a few hundred metres you'll find the entrance (a small fee - 500 yen, I think). You'll back-track a little parallel to the way you came, past gift shops and a few temple buildings, and then start the climb. It's simply gorgeous, particularly if, like me, you get there 9.30ish (before crowds, I suppose) and on a bright and warm (not humid) day in late May. The path winds up through a cedar woodland humming with life and dotted with flowers, past statues and mysterious niches and carvings cut into cliff faces. It's how I imagine the path out of Rivendell.

Once you break through the trees to the main complex of buildings, you'll see the view of the valley below. There's a viewing platform on the left as you come up with spectacular views for the album. Then continue up the main path to get to the very top.

I'm not that fit and found the climb tiring, but it wasn't really a struggle. There are plenty of places to rest along the way, and there were groups of over 60s already passing me on their way down before 10. I did the whole thing comfortably within 2 hours, with time for an ice-cream and a little look around the souvenir shops in the village. If I'd had time, it might have been nice to linger there a few more minutes though.

One tip - you'll need water, so bring it up with you. There's a vending machine at the top, but it's 200 yen for mini bottles (understandable, as the poor guy has to lug everthing up 1000 steps, but still a rip off).

Visited May 2014
4 Thank Kakipii294
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Auckland Region, New Zealand
Level 6 Contributor
278 reviews
123 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 359 helpful votes
“Temple above the Morning Mist.”
Reviewed January 6, 2014

Yamadera is a place of tranquility nestled high on a mountain. You need only need to be moderately fit to walk the path and steps to the top. There are plenty of places to stop and rest, if needed, and enjoy the tranquility, on the way to the top.
I have seen various estimates of the number of steps varying between 1000 and 10013. It is definately more than that. I counted another 43 steps after the 1,000 step marker. Climbing the steps up Yamadera is worth the effort as the view is wonderful.

Visited November 2013
1 Thank StanleyAuckland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Country Victoria, Australia
Level 6 Contributor
283 reviews
93 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 331 helpful votes
“Yamadera temple – proceed with caution in Winter conditions.”
Reviewed March 22, 2013

Yamadera is a scenic temple founded in 860, located in the mountains northeast of Yamagata City. The temple and grounds are accessed by a series of flights of steps and pathways, which pass rocky outcrops and viewpoints down to the valley.
Yamadera Station is served by the JR Senzan Line trip takes around 20 minutes from Yamagata, return train fare Yen 460. The temple complex is visible from the station platform, temple entry a five minute walk from the Yamadera Station, across the river and through the town. Temple entry fee Y300.
Godaido Hall, an observation deck built in the early 1700s extends out over a cliff with the best views onto the valley below. The views of the snow covered countryside and distant mountains were lovely. We visited Yamadera on a daytrip, a break from skiing at Zao Onsen; several days of snow had fallen prior to our visit followed by thaw and sunshine. No attempt had been made to clear the snow from the steps and in places ascending the steps was possible using toe holds in the snow and descending in places involved hanging on to a handrail and slippery sliding sideways over the iced up steps, more chance of injury here than on a ski slope! Many temple buildings were also boarded up for protection from the drifting snow; there was little activity in the village and shops at the base of the hill.

Visited February 2013
4 Thank Hitchiker_bear
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Also known as Yamadera...”
Reviewed September 24, 2012

...is one of the better known attractions of Yamagata prefecture. It is very impportant historically, but will also be a worth your while if you are not into that kind of thing. It is a relaxed climb up many stairs to the top of the mountain where you can look over yamagata city from the historical wooden houses. Some of these wooden houses were constructed in the Muromachi period (1333–1568) from beech wood, which is quite rare. The temples all along the rocky hillsides are very beautiful and make amazing photo material. It is well worth a visit.

Visited August 2012
Thank Bakeneko
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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