Zao’s Echoline and Yamadera – Road Trip Challenge: 118 Bends Followed by 1000 Steps

Zao Echoline

If you have been the lucky (crazy) few who have gotten into a car with me you’ll quickly realise that driving is not my forté…


Which is why this road was probably the BEST choice for a driver like me to drive on!

Zao’s Echoline. The bendiest, most exciting, concentration-forcing, windiest road in Japan.

…Did I mention it was twisty?

Echoline is 41km and accends towards the peak of Mt Kattadake (1758m) and down the other side into Miyagi Prefecture. I drove around approximately 118 bends in total. It felt like skiing… in a car.

Ridin’ in Style

This was my partner in crime and to be honest I have kind of fallen in love with her nippy acceleration and eco-friendliness. She handled those curves like a well crafted pair of slalom skis.


Echoline took me up to see Mt Zao’s volcanic crater – Okama, however the visibility was poor at the 540¥ toll road to the peak. Turning back, I enjoyed the drive through the snow walls either side of the mountain pass, which reached up to 9m high.

Zao’s Echo line is the sister road of Tateyama’s 19m high snow walls, which is closed during the highest snowfall months in the winter due to “too much snow”.
However Tateyama’s snow area re-opens about this time for the keen few skiers and snowboarders to continue enjoying Japan’s legendary Japow.



A thousand steps through a forest of pines and stone lanterns to reach wooden temples hanging on to the side of a cliff.

I was pretty excited for this hike.


Yamadera literally means “Mountain Temple”. Being honest here, I wasn’t that interested in the Haiku that was written here by poet Basho when he came to visit in the 1600’s, about the stillness and quiet he experienced here. Nor Konponchudo Hall, the main hall here which has kept a flame still burning since Yamadera’s foundation, which was brought from Enryakuji Temple in Kyoto…


…I came to see this view from Godaido.

It took my breath away.


Travellers Tips:

Yamadera Temples Entrance Fee: 300¥

Approx 30min climb to the top of Yamadera. Toilets and Restaurants in the town at the base.

Zao Echoline Toll Road: 540¥

45min/1hr drive to Okama from Zao Miyagi Eboshi Resort. Parking and places to stop and enjoy the view along the way. Rest station with cafe at the top with parking.

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