Option C:Yamadera and Matsuo Basho
About 3 hours (1,140 yen)

A spiritual setting that inspires profound poetry

Yamadera is an ancient temple complex founded in AD 860 by Ennin, a monk of the Tendai sect of Buddhism, and is accessible in 20-30 minutes by car or train from JR Yamagata Station. It is one of the most significant sacred sites in Japan's northeastern Tohoku region, and it also draws many visitors simply for its tranquil beauty, which was immortalized in literature by Basho, Japan's most famous haiku poet. Basho's legacy is honoured here.

Start at

[JR Yamagata Station]

Ride JR Senzan Line 23 minutes (220 yen)

Get off at JR Yamadera Station

Walk 5 minutes

[1&2. Risshaku-ji/Hojusan Risshaku Temple] 1.5 hours* (300 yen)

*Includes walking up and then back down the mountain

[3. Yamadera Basho Museum] 20 minutes (400 yen)

Walk 5 minutes

[JR Yamadera Station]

Ride JR Senzan Line 23 minutes (220 yen)

Get off at JR Yamagata Station

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1 & 2. Risshaku-ji/Hojusan Risshaku Temple
90 minutes (Admission: 300 yen)

Risshaku-ji/Hojusan Risshaku Temple is the formal name of Yamadera. It draws many people of faith, who regard ascending the 1,015 stone stairs that lead from the foot of the mountain to the inner temple as a spiritual journey. But even if your purpose in climbing the stairs is sightseeing rather than spiritual, you won't be disappointed—the view from the Godai-do at the top of the stone stairs is spectacular.

English website:

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3. Yamadera Basho Museum
20 minutes (Admission: 400 yen)

Matsuo Basho, who lived in the 17th century, is one of Japan's greatest haiku poets. A famous story relates how he visited Yamadera and composed the following poem lauding the tranquillity of its lushly wooded mountain setting.

seeps into the stones
the sound of the cicadas

This museum provides some exhibit information in English.

English website (unofficial):

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