What you'll do
Yamadera is an ancient Buddhist temple complex built into a steep mountainside. It is considered a spiritual power spot, and one of the most scenic temples in Japan. I will lead you from Yamadera's main hall at the base of the mountain up 1,015 stone steps to the inner sanctuary, the Okunoin, and on to the viewing platform, which offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and village below. Along the away, you'll learn the story of Yamadera, from its origins, to insights into Tendai Buddhism, and why the area is considered so sacred. Next, we head into the woods to discover the ancient Tarumizu ruins, rarely visited by tourists. This sacred location is part of the original trail taken by temple founder Jikaku Daishi. A natural wall full of caves and grottos is home to these ruins and has for centuries been a place of secret training by Yamabushi mountain monks. Finally, back in Yamadera town, your guide will show you around town and some very special shops offering Yamagata meibutsu—local folk crafts and sundries such as benibana (dried safflower) and traditional kokeshi dolls.
Originally from America, I have lived in Yamagata, Japan for two years, and am member of a startup inbound travel company, The Hidden Japan. Our mission is to reveal the treasures of the Tohoku region to overseas visitors, starting in the Yamagata prefecture. I am working with people in the community to build enriching experiences that highlight the unique culture, craft, and history of northern Japan. This is another side of Japan, far away from the huge tourist crowds, but absolutely memorable none the less.
I will provide all admissions tickets.
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Where you'll be
We'll be visiting one of the most celebrated Tendai Buddhist temples in all of Tohoku. Surrounded by a dense cedar forest, we'll climb the mountain path, pass through the great Niomon Gate and upper sub-temple complex area, eventually toward the inner sanctuary. From there, we'll visit the Nokyodo, Kaisando, and Godaido halls, as well as the observations deck, before making our descent and heading to the Tarumizu ruins.
Things to keep in mind
Any experience can be cancelled and fully refunded within 24 hours of purchase.
Always communicate through Airbnb. To protect your payment, never transfer money or communicate outside of the Airbnb website or app.
Up to 10 guests ages 10 and up can attend.
Wear good footwear for those 1,015 stairs. Check the weather beforehand and please dress appropriately for rain or snow. Please note that I can often accommodate dates/times other than those posted on the calendar. For other experience availability, please inquire.
Discover an Ancient Mountain Temple