Take a Zen Buddhist Pilgrimage at a Primeval Mountain Path in Yamadera

Walk your way to inner peace on the slopes of Yamagata’s famous mountain

Yamadera, a spiritual mountaintop escape in Yamagata Prefecture, has been a location of meditation and training for Zen Buddhist monks since the mid-9th century. Follow in their footsteps–and those of haiku master Matsuo Basho–as you tread the mountain paths, accompanied by a local guide who will regale you with stories from the days of old. Your route may even lead you through a series of natural caves. The forested paths and temple grounds are sure to relax your mind and spirit, just as they’ve done for monks over the last millennium.

Travel through the old Shugendo training grounds before settling in to a lunch of soba noodles, typically featuring locally sourced buckwheat. After lunch, join monks from the temple for a Zen meditation session. You’ll learn to let go of worldly worries under the guidance of the monks, and will also have the opportunity to join in on a sutra copying session. It’s believed that copying Buddhist scriptures and teachings can lead to another form of spiritual mindfulness.

The tour is available from late April to November.