YamaderaSpot Guide

Risshakuji Temple and Konponchudo Temple

Yamadera, literally “mountain temple,” was established in 860 by the priest Jikaku Daishi in response to an imperial edict issued by Emperor Seiwa. Officially known as Hojusan Risshakuji, this temple belongs to the Tendai sect of Buddhism. Designated an important cultural property of Japan, the main Konponchudo Temple structure was rebuilt in 1356 by Shiba Kaneyori, the first lord of Yamagata Castle. This traditional building, with an irimoya-zukuri (hip-and-gable) roof, is said to be the oldest beech structure in Japan, and is a well-preserved example of a Tendai sect Buddhist hall. Installed within the temple is a wooden seated statue of Yakushi Nyorai that was said to have been carved by Jikaku Daishi himself, and visitors may pay their respects before the “eternal flame” which was brought to Yamadera from Enryakuji Temple on Mt. Hiei, where it had originally been lit by the Buddhist priest Saicho. When Enryakuji Temple was rebuilt after being destroyed by Oda Nobunaga’s forces, the Konponchudo Temple flame was used to relight the eternal flame on Mt. Hiei.

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