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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

History

Risshaku-ji Temple (Yamadera) 立石寺(山寺)

Hike through mystical cedar forest to a spectacular mountaintop temple

Yamadera’s sub-temples dot the slopes of Mt. Hoshu northeast of Yamagata City. A 1,000-step ascent through a mystical forest brings you to a mountaintop temple complex—Yamadera—with a view considered among the best in northern Japan.

Don't Miss

  • Unsurpassed views from Godaido Hall at the top of the mountain
  • Seeing a ritual flame that has burned for over 1,000 years

How to Get There

Yamadera’s lower temples are a 7-minute walk from JR Yamadera Station.

Taking the Hayabusa Shinkansen from Tokyo and changing for the Yamagata-bound train at Sendai will get you to Yamadera Station in just over three hours.

Quick Facts

Risshakuji Temple is the official name for Yamadera, which literally means “mountain temple”

The temple was founded in 860

The renowned haiku poet Bassho composed one of his most famous poems here

Something for all

Yamadera is especially popular with photographers. Every season has something to offer but autumn, when the forests burst into color and winter, when the region is submerged in a sea of winter white, are particularly noteworthy.

Konponchudo Hall, located at the foot of the mountain, houses a ritual flame that’s said to have been burning since the temple’s founding in 860. The hall is made of sturdy beech wood and is widely considered to be the oldest of its kind in Japan.

Nearby, Hiko Hall, the temple’s treasure house, was built in the 12th century and preserves Yamadera’s most precious works of Buddhist art and literature.

Stairway to heaven

The climb up the mountain ascends a flight of over 1,000 stone steps, with eye-catching shrines and enchanting stone lanterns dotting the way through an atmospheric cedar forest.

Passing through the intricately carved Niomon gate brings you into the temple precincts near the top. There are numerous temple buildings in this area, including Kaisando Hall, dedicated to the temple’s founder. The climb to the top usually takes 20-30 minutes.

It's all about the view

Once you arrive at the upper complex you’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable view overlooking the Tachiya River Valley. Take the path to the right of Kaisando Hall and follow it to Godaido Hall. The observation deck offers the best view on the mountain.

Back to earth

After the long climb back down, you might be in need of refreshment. The souvenir stores around the temple entrance stock local ice cream and there are also a number of restaurants serving light meals.

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