Miidera, "Temple of the Phoenix"

(There's an observation deck from where we can see the city of Otsu and Lake Biwa.)

My prefecture (state), Shiga is located just next to Kyoto and has many wonderful places to visit.  I'll recommend you to visit one of such places...

Miidera (formal name is 'Onjyoji' ) is a Buddhist temple which is located at the foot of Mt. Hiei in Shiga Prefecture (next prefecture of Kyoto).  It's also closed to Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan. 

The temple is said to have been founded in the 7th century, however, it has been destroyed in the fires during many wars and battles throughout its long history.  It has always been restored, therefore, Miidera is known as the 'temple of the phoenix'. 

Niomon Gate 

You can see 2 guardian statues guarding the entrance. 

The temple bell, known as the 'Mii Evening Bell' is famous as one of the 'Eight views of Omi (old name of Shiga) Province'. The bell is rung on the night of New Year's Eve praying for good fortune in the coming year.

 

Kondo, Golden Hall (National Treasure of Japan) 

The present building was rebuilt in the 16th century.

The principal image, Statue of Maitreya, is enshrined in the center of the inner sanctum (naijin) and has been kept hidden from public for more than 1200 years ! It is said to have been the Buddhist image used as jewellery by Emperor Tenji in the 7th century and no one has seen the image which is said to be a little less than 10 cm since then!

(borrowed from the poster put up in the precinct)

 The reason why I like Miidera so much is because we can see many Buddhist statues displayed along the lateral wall of the inner sanctum (naijin). As you can see, they are arranged so that they seem to be reachable. (Please be noted that we cannot take any pictures in the building.)

Its name Miidera means 'Three Wells'. The springs at this temple is said to have been used for the ritual newborns' bathing of three emperors in the 7th century.  Still now, we can see the spring of sacred water in the building called 'Akaiya'.  (the west side of the Kondo)

 We can see the famous sculpture of dragon, which is said to be the work of Jingoro Hidari (famous sculptor in the 17th century) on the facade of the 'Akaiya Building'. The dragon used to escape and fly to Lake Biwa night after night, and caused damages.  Jingoro is said to have been worried and drove spikes in the dragon's eyeballs to soothe the beast.

 

Benkei Hikizuri Bell

There is another legend in Miidera.  Musashibo Benkei (a worrior monk who was big and strong in the 12th century) is said to have dragged the bell from Miidera all the way up to Mt. Hiei, when he heard the bell ringing, 'eeno eeno' (meaning, 'I want to go back').  He threw the bell down to the bottom of the valley.  We can see the scars and cracks which is said to be the traces of this episode. 

Three-story pagoda (designated as Cultural Property of Japan)

As many as 1500 cherry blossom trees welcome you in spring.  In autumn, we can enjoy the marvelous view of red and yellow.  Imagine all over this area turns into red! 

We can find several other small sub temples in the precinct of Miidera. We can find other unique Buddhist statues in those temples.

Ernest Fenollosa received religious precepts at Miidera and his cremains were buried separately in Homyoin (sub temple of Miidera, which is near Miidera) as his last request.  He is said to have wanted to die in this area from where he could see Lake Biwa.

It takes about 10 minutes walking from Keihan Miidera Station to Miidera. (It takes about 30 minutes from Keihan Sanjyo in Kyoto to Miidera Station.)  If you come to Kyoto, why don't you visit Miidera in Shiga?  Walking around in the wide, tranquil precinct, seeing unique Buddhist buildings, and meeting Buddha statues will give you precious time in Japan.

I hope that you will enjoy visiting Miidera and agree that Miidera grew to be one of 'Four Great Temples of Japan'. 

(May 2022)

 

 

 

Did you like my article?

You can send me a message to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.

I'll be waiting for you, so please check my profile and get your trip plan now

Tours By Guide

Very Special 1day Kyoto Tour just for You

Kyoto
7 hours

Kyoto had been the capital of Japan for 1000 years and has many temples and shrines to visit. You can choose and visit a few? several? popular places as you like. (Please choose a few places among the following sightseeing spots. If you have any other preferable spots, please let me know. I'll guide you as many places as possible. Please note that some places are located in a little far away and it may need some time to go and come back.

FROM$197/ per group

Must see spots in Kyoto and Nara in a day (7 hours)

Kyoto
7 hours

In this tour, you can visit three most popular sightseeing spots in Nara and Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, the most popular sightseeing spot for visitors from abroad, in Kyoto.

FROM$197/ per group

A Wonderful Half Day in Kyoto (North-west Kyoto) 4h

Kyoto
4 hours

This tour is recommended for the first timers to Kyoto. Kyoto had been the capital of Japan for 1000 years and has many old temples and shrines to visit. You can visit three famous and popular sightseeing spots in Kyoto. All of these three places are registered as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites.

FROM$110/ per group

A Wonderful Half Day in Kyoto (East Kyoto) 4h

Kyoto
4 hours

This tour is recommended for the first visitors to Kyoto. Kyoto had been the capital of Japan for 1000 years and has many old temples and shrines to visit. In this tour, you can visit two of the most famous and popular sightseeing spots in Kyoto and see the wonderful tradition, especially about Buddhist culture. Please note that Kiyomizudera Temple is now being renovated.

FROM$110/ per group

Vermillion Torii Gates Tunnel and Tasting Japanese Sake 4h

Kyoto
4 hours

In this tour, we visit Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, the most popular sightseeing spot for visitors from abroad in Japan. Then, (we take the public transportation) and visit Fushimi District, which is famous for producing good quality of Japanese sake.

FROM$110/ per group

Visiting temples and tea ceremony experience in East Kyoto

Kyoto
6 hours

This tour is based on 'A Wonderful Half Day in Kyoto (East Kyoto). You can visit Sanjyusangendo Temple, Kiyomizudera Temple and Kenninji Temple. You can also enjoy tea ceremony experience.

FROM$165/ per group

Plan your trip to Shiga with Tomoe S.

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.

Send Message