This tour starts in town and follows the pilgrim path up the 1,015 stone steps of the temple. Our first stop will be at the Taimenseki boulder, and then we’ll move on to the glorious Main Hall, the Konponchudo. We’ll pass through Hiei Shrine on our way to the main gate, learning about Yamadera’s Tendai origins in Kyoto.
From the main gate, we begin our ascent into hallowed grounds, past many ancient graves and memorials. The frightening visage of the Ubadou marks a weigh point for pilgrims the stone path, the first crossing between worlds of existence and transcendence.
This area is full of ancient stupas, stelae, and gravesites, as well as important monuments to Matsuo Basho and Jikaku Daishi. Surrounded in nature, one can meditate upon the many great spirits who have passed through this forest.
Further up, we’ll pass beneath the grand Niomon gate and the glare of its sentry guardians, and forward into the sub-temple complex where practitioners of escoteric Tendai Buddhism continue their mysterious trainings.
We continue to the Okunoin, halls which contain numerous priceless carvings of the Amida Buddha and boddhisatva, as well as other sacred treasures.
Finally, we’ll make our way to Yamadera’s most picturesque structures the Nokyodo, Kaisando, and Godaido, which offers spectacular views of the mountains and valley below. After which, we will head back down to the starting point.