Yamadera in Winter

Mountain temple in snow and ice

By Alena Eckelmann    - 1 min read

Visiting Yamadera in winter? No problem as long as you wear the right shoes and warm winter clothes! "Mountain Temple", one of Yamagata Prefecture's most famous landmarks, is exactly what the name promises - a temple in the mountains. There are actually several temple structures located at the foot and on top of the mountain and a long flight of stone steps lined by stone lanterns connects them. Famous 17th century poet Matsuo Basho visited here too, although in warmer season, and he promptly penned a haiku about the voice of cicada. The icy winter landscape only adds to the natural beauty of this place, although the ascetics of old who sat in meditation in one of the caves carved in the rocks, will have had other things on their minds. Walking up the stone steps deeply covered in snow is quite strenuous but it is an unusual winter experience with some spiritual flair. If you happen to go on a skiing holiday to the nearby Zao Onsen ski resort and you need a break from the slopes, then take time out for a half-day trip to Yamadera.

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Alena Eckelmann

Alena Eckelmann @alena.eckelmann

Born East of the Wall and South of Berlin, I am celebrating my 15th year anniversary in Japan in May 2020, the country that I call home now. I lived in crazy Tokyo for 6 years and since 2011 I call the beautiful Kii Peninsula (Kumano, Koyasan and Yoshinoyama) my home.I have been a JapanTravel Partner since the conception of the platform in 2011! In Tokyo I worked in market research at AIP Corporation and in business education at JMEC. For the last 10 years I have been a guide for foreign visitors at Venture Japan, on top of being a Freelance Writer and a Business Researcher.  Apart from work, I trained at the Yoshinkan Aikido Dojo and at the Oedo Sukeroku Taiko Dojo for several years each, and I ran the 1st Tokyo Marathon and enjoyed cycling around Tokyo. During the last 10 years I am working with local authorities to improve their hospitality to foreign visitors and I have participated in many monitors as a media representative.  My current interest is in Japanese nature and spirituality. I love spending time in the forest and mountains, and I love visiting temples and shrines.   I am a licensed guide for the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails  and for Koyasan, the Buddhist monastery, in addition to being a practitioner and licensed guide for Forest Therapy (Shinrin Therapy).  As a guide for walking tours, I have taken visitors to walk the Kumano Kodo trails, the Nakasendo trail and the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage trail.  Being grounded during this COVID-19 crisis, I enjoy gardening, baking bread in my new Japanese bread-maker and going for walks around 'my' village.  Take care, keep well, stay safe!