1,015 steps of Yamadera (Risshakuji Temple), Yamagata, Japan
The recovering tsunami/earthquake devastated Tohoku Region of Japan offers another reason why you should reconsider visiting the area, that is if you want to admire one of Japan’s ancient mountain temple (Yamadera, also known as “Risshakuji Temple”) and at the same time take a moment to reflect as you climb the temple 1,015 steps.
Arriving at Yamadera Station, on a sunny-less morning from Sendai via JR Senzan Line, I was looking forward on seeing the mountain temples as it mixed with the colorful autumn leaves. Hoping that the weather will be better later, I walked straight towards the location of the temple entrance with the help of the Buddhist monk-shaped information guides on the street.
Climbing the stone staircase of 1,015 steps with me are mostly elderly whom I admire dearly. With their walking sticks and digital camera hanging on their neck, you will not believe how strong they are. I wish when I reach their age, I will have the same enthusiasm as they are- to travel, to explore places and maybe continue to blog about my experiences.
The view of greenery around and several statues along the way offers a good climbing distraction to all visitors. During summer, it is said that the sound of cicadas floats thru the temple path, another source of inspiration for haiku poet- Matsuo Basho.
“ah this silence / sinking into the rocks / voice of cicada”
One of the parts I like the most about the mountain temple are its sharp cliffs and rock formation, particularly the part where there are writings on the wall together with 1 yen coin offering. If you look a little farther away from the rock formation, it is said that the century of weather changes has resemble an outline of a Buddhist priest meditating so long than one of his legs fell off.
More stairs and more steps, I reached another temple on the top most part. Most people who climbed with me are taking their time to place a sotoba (wooden stick with the name of the deceased relatives) and offered a prayer at the Buddha statues nearby.
There is a reason why the 1,015 steps were built. As the signage on the temple entrance explains following the Buddhist monks belief- “We have been climbing this sacred mountain’s stone stairs step-by-step since ancient times as an ascetic practice to give us faith and extinguish our worldly desires.”
Visit Yamadera and its 1015 steps. Visit the Tohoku Region.