Yamadera temple (literally 'Mountain temple') is located in the northeast of Yamagata city. This is a place filled with temples and scenic views, located high up in the mountains. If you are looking for a day trip from Sendai, in Tohoku, then definitely do consider going to Yamadera. If you have the JR East Pass this place is covered as well: from Sendai Station just take the JR train to Yamadera Station. From there it is a short 5 minute walk to the main starting point for the hike (those coming from Tokyo will find it easier to go via Sendai too).
Matsuo Basho, the most famous poet during the Edo Period, passed by this place and wrote one of his famous haiku over here. As you walk towards the base entrance, you will notice a Basho statue sitting on a rock.
Around the base of the mountain, many temples are located, including the Main Hall, Konponchudo Hall, the oldest building in the area. There are also numerous shops, where locals sell refreshment to visitors. You can buy something for the way up or rest here after the hike. It is a good option to buy water here if it's a hot day – along the hike, the prices go up as you can probably expect.
There is a small fee of ¥300 to be paid at the entrance, Sanmon Gate, before the hike itself begins. You can also get a small map from them. There are roughly around 1000 steps to make before you reach the top, where you will be able to see a magnificent view of the city and the mountain valley from Godaido Hall.
Along the way, you will see lots of different temples and points of interest, including the Mida Hora rock, Niomon Gate, the Kaisando Hall and the Nokyodo. The atmosphere is quiet and relaxing as well, and Yamadera makes for a wonderful escape from the usual bustling and crowded city area.
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