An ancient temple with sacred springs , on the southwest bank of Lake Biwa

Mii-dera Temple, also known as Onjo-ji is located at the foot of Mt. Hiei on the other side of Enryaku-ji Temple. The temple is also just inland from Lake Biwa.

The Emperor Tenmu founded Onjo-ji Temple in 672 in tribute to his murdered nephew. About 200 years later, it became known as Mii-dera in honor of the three wells inside the temple. Mii-dera means the “Temple of the Three Wells”, which is said to have the sacred spring used for the first baths of three emperors – Tenji, Tenmu, and Jito. You can still hear the sound of water as it springs up inside the small shrine.

The temple was originally the main inner temple of the Tendai-jimon sect.  it became an independent temple on the mount Hiei-zan in 13th century. Mii-dera is the fourteenth temple in the Pilgrimage of 33 Temples devoted to Kannon in the Kansai area of western Japan.

Kon-do and Nio-mon

● The Kon-do 「金堂」
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● The Nio-mon gate 「仁王門」

The front of the temple gate is made of a stone wall, conveys the history of the contention between Mii-dera and Enryaku-ji. The Kon-do is designated as a National Treasure. The Kon-do enshrines an image of Miroku-Bosatsu (a Bodhisattva who is supposed to appear in the future world as the successor of the Buddha).

Other structures here have been designated as Important Cultural Properties, including the Nio-mon (a gate with images of Deva kings on either side), on both sides of the entrance to which stand Buddhist images, and the three-storied pagoda.

The sound of the bell at this temple has been admired for its beauty in literature since ancient times.


This temple is also very famous for its cherry blossoms (1,500 cherry trees on the grounds) and autumn colors. The cherry blossoms at Mii-dera Temple along with the Lake Biwa Canal are magnificent.

Address : 246 Onjoji-cho, Otsu-shi, Shiga

Access : Taking a bus from JR Otsu station to Miidera-mae Stop, 5 minute walk from there

Hours : Open through the year

Admission : 500 yen


mii-dera illumination

Mii-dera Temple Autumn Illumination

Mii-dera Temple is one of the four largest temples in Japan, there are 40 named buildings in the Mii-dera temple complex. The area is lit up, creating a magical atmosphere with the bright colors of autumn leaves.