A trip to the Sendai area isn't compete without hiking up the 1000 steps to Yamadera, a mountain shrine in Yamagata. Yamadera is about an hour from Sendai, but it's worth it even just for the train ride! The tracks run through the mountains and it's absolutely beautiful, especially in the fall. Benny was being so funny on the train; he just kept hugging Clara and cuddling up to her!
The hike, even though it's straight up a mountain and consists of 1015 steps, really wasn't too bad. Clara actually walked more than half on her own before we stuck her in the backpack, and honestly, I think she could have made it the whole way had we just slowed down a bit. And Will was a champ. He had no problems getting up to the top with energy to spare.
Before the real trail begins (so after only one or two sets of stairs), there is a shrine with a large Buddha out front. You can tell where he's been rubbed and patted by thousands of visitors over the years :)
The scenery along the path, the trees and foliage, stone carvings, and tomb stones were all so beautiful and interesting. It was a really cool hike, with a lot to see all along the way, not just at the top!
But, as pretty as the hike was going up, the views from the top were unbeatable. It's not possible to capture the breadth and scope of all that the eye can see from the top of the mountain! And it's just mind-blowing that this temple was built hundreds of years ago on the mountaintop!
After we got our work-out, we were plenty hungry and very cold, so we sat down for a delicious meal of mountain vegetables, soba, and tempura! Oishii!