Yamadera's official name is Hojuzan Risshakuji Temple (宝珠山立石寺). It was built in 860 by Tendai Buddhist priest, Jigaku Daishi. In 1356, Shiba Kaneyori, the first castle lord of Yamagata, supported Risshakuji and built many temples. Some of those temples still remains and chosen as historical assets of Yamagata. They are also one of the oldest building in Japan as well.
Matsuo Basho, the Hiku master, and Semizuka
... had visted in 1689 during the Okuno Hosomichi, The Narrow Road to the Interior . He wrote the one of the most famous Hiku,
"How still it is! Stinging into the stones, the locusts' trill."
... has main temple called Konpon chudo Temple, the bell tower, and the Sanmon Gate which is built in Kamakura Period. There are over 1000 steps to the Daibutsu den.
Niomon, rebuilt in 1848, have Nio Statues to watch all people's mind. THere are 4 temples which used for also the house for all monks. The cliffside were used for the training. Therefore many temples are located on the cliffs. Monks had to climb up to practice, and those who had unnecessary desire always fell.
Okunoin and Daibutsuden
... are located on the highest level of the temple. Okunoin has Shaka Statues which Jigaku Daishi took with him during his practice at China. In Daibutsuden, there is 5m high Great Buddha statue.
Godaido and Kaizando
... are the first temple established by Jigaku Daishi. It has great view of the valley.