Yamadera is a temple complex on a mountain top northeast of the city of Yamagata in the prefecture of the same name. Its official name is Risshakuji, but it is largely known as Yamadera (literally the" mountain temple ") as it climbs up a steep mountain over several levels It is considered a place of particular beauty and is a registered historical site.
The temple was built in 860 by the priest Ennin and at that time belonged to the Tennai sect. It was expanded during the Kamakura Shogunate before being destroyed after a fire in the 13th century and then rebuilt and made into a Zen temple.
The temple grounds begin at the foot of the mountain and lead up over 1,000 steps and several levels. The unusual location on the sometimes steep mountain slopes as well as the embedding in the surrounding nature inspired the well-known poet Matsuo Basho, who wrote one of his most famous haiku poems here. There is also a museum dedicated to him near the temple, in which one can admire his works.
Yamadera is served by its own self-named train station, which is located on the JR Senzan line that connects Yamagata City and Sendai.
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