Yamadera's history dates back to 860 AD when Tennin, a priest of the Tendai Buddhist sect, founded the temple Risshaku-ji in its grounds. This original temple was destroyed in the early sixteenth century and the present buildings were rebuilt later that century. In 1689, the prolific poet Matsuo Basho visited Yamadera, writing about it in a haiku. Nowadays, it is one of Yamagata's most popular attractions. Atmospheric in every season, it is perhaps at its most beautiful in early November when the leaves turn a variety of rich reds and oranges.
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