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When in Kyoto, Visit the Overlooked Miidera Temple

Posted By on Oct 15, 2014


When it comes to the Kansai region, most tourists only end up visiting Kyoto and Osaka when traveling in Japan. However, Kansai is rather large with a lot to explore. Otsu City is an area that deserves more attention and it’s only located 30 minutes by train from Kyoto.

One of the main points of interest in Otsu City is Miidera Temple. Located at the foot of Mount Hiei, it’s easily accessed by train and just a short walk from the station.


Miidera Temple is one of the four largest temples in Japan, so you’ll certainly want to leave ample time to wander the premises and explore. Visiting actually makes a perfect day trip from nearby Kyoto. Just looking at the map above, you can see how spread out it is.

During most times of year the temple shouldn’t be too crowded unless you visit during cherry blossom season. There are almost 2,000 cherry trees spread out throughout the temple grounds, which makes it very picturesque to visit in early spring.

The temple itself was founded in 672 and throughout its history the emperors of Japan have modified its structure and name. Literally meaning “temple of the three wells”, it is believed the name comes from a well where those three emperors had their first bath.

Since it’s founding, the temple has been destroyed by fire multiple times, but had been restored with the help of Hideyoshi Toyotomi.

It is the head temple of Tendai Buddhism and not only is it one of the four largest temples, it’s also considered one of the Four Great Temples of Japan.

Today the temple is considered one of Japan’s National Treasures.


At the entrance of the temple complex you’ll be greeted by the Niomon Gate, which is another important cultural property. The main structure of the temple if the Kondo, and nearby is the wooden three story pagoda.

As you continue walking to the back of the temple property, you’ll will come across the Kannon Hall. Dedicated to Kannon, Bodhisattva of Compassion, this structure was built in 1072.


This hall is very picture-worthy, and behind it you’ll find an observation deck that gives great views over Otsu City.

So the next time you’re in Kyoto, be sure to save some time to explore the fascinating Miidera Temple.

Address: Japan, 〒520-0036 滋賀県大津市園城寺町246

[post by Beth]

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Beth Williams

Originally from Chicago, Beth got her first true taste of travel when she studied abroad in Japan during her final year of university. She ended up loving Asia so much, she found herself moving right back upon graduating and is currently teaching English full-time in Hong Kong. Armed with her camera and a passion for travel, she is currently on a mission to photograph the world-- proving that you can work the normal “9-5” and still find time to travel on her blog Besudesu Abroad.

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