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

Celebrating my 10th year anniversary in Japan in May 2018, the country that I call home now. I lived in crazy Tokyo for 6 years and since 2011 I call the Kii Peninsula (Kumano, Koyasan and Yoshinoyama) my home. I have visited all 47 prefectures of Japan and for the last 4 years I have worked as a guide for foreign visitors. My special 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 also a licensed guide for the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails and for Koyasan, the Buddhist monastery, in addition to being a practitioner and guide for Shinrin Yoku (Forest Therapy).   In recent years I have taken visitors to walk the Kumano Kodo trails, the Nakasendo trail, the 88 temple pilgrimage trail around Shikoku Island and to Dewa Sanzan, the three sacred mountains in Yamagata Prefecture. If you look for nature and spirituality in your trip to Japan, then Wakayama, Nara and Yamagata Prefectures are ideal places to get started!