Editors Note: We’re back from vacation and celebrating with a week of posts about our vacation destination: Tohoku! Beat the summer heat of Tokyo and the wall-to-wall crowds of Kyoto and visit Tohoku in northern Japan instead!
Located just a half hour outside of Yamagata city in the Prefecture of the same name, Yamadera literally means “Mountain Temple”. And for good reason: you climb 1,015 steps from the bottom of the mountain to reach the Okunoin, the highest temple in the complex of buildings. Don’t worry about keeping count of the steps; signs along the way will remind you how much more you have left to go. Okunoin is nice, but the crown jewel of Yamadera is Kaisando, which sits on the edge of the cliff overlooking the green valley below. On summer nights, the path is lit with candles allowing you to make the climb in evening’s darkness.