Ishiyamadera― The Temple of Sacred Stone

Pictures of Ishiyamadera

Ishiyamadera is a temple of the Buddhist-sect Shingon, sitting on the bank of Seta River in the south end of Ōtsu city. This temple is counted as the 13th holy site of the Saikoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, the pilgrimage of thirty-three temples dedicated to Kannon (the deity of compassion) dotted around the Saikoku (Kansai) region. The Reverend Rouben founded this temple in 747 CE to fulfill the pious wish of Emperor Shōmu. In the Heian period (794-1185) this temple was a famous place for the Kannon devotees. The Imperial as well as noble family members often visited this temple to worship Kannon, and it is popularly known as the ‘Ishiyama-moude’, pilgrimage to the Ishiyamadera Temple.

Legend says that the noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu confined herself at this temple for seven days, and observing the full moon of August 1004 CE, she conceived the concept of writing the “Genji Monogatari”, the oldest novel of the world that tells the tale of Genji. This scene is revived as “The Room of Genji” at Hondō, the main shrine.

The natural beauty of Ishiyamadera, built on the sacred large wollastonite, is beyond words. One can enjoy various flowers that bloom at the temple courtyard in all seasons, such as plum, sakura, Kirishima azaleas, peony, autumn leaves and camellia etc. And thus this temple is also called as ‘Temple of Flowers’. In addition, the autumn moon from the Ishiyamadera Hill is included in the eight most beautiful spots of Ōmi region.

Ishiyamadera is the house of countless treasures since the 8th century. Hondō and two-storied Tahōtō Pagoda are the finest remaining example of Japanese traditional architecture, and have won the status of National Treasures. This temple also preserves exceptional artistic Painting scrolls, Buddhist scriptures, statues and numerous cultural properties.

Ishiyamadera is a historic temple of sacred stone where you can feel nature and experience religious culture. It is not hard to spend hours wandering around this temple.

The Honzon (The Principle Image of the Temple)

Picture of The Honzon

The Honzon (The Principle Image of the Temple) is Nyoirin Kannon (Cintāmaṇicakra) who are allowed to see every thirty three years.

Hondō:Main Shrine (National Treasure)

Picture of Hondō:Main Shrine

It is the oldest wooden structure of Shiga prefecture. It was repeatedly reconstructed in Heian period (794-1185). In the later period through the donation of Yodo-dono, a concubine of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Hondō was renovated. There also remains a famous place called the ‘Genji no Ma’ where Murasaki Shikibu authored the great novel Genji Monogatari.

Wollastonite (Sacred Stone)

Picture of Wollastonite

The temple precinct is erected on the large wollastonite, designated as the Rare Natural Monument of Japan. The very name of this temple is derived form this sacred stone. You will be astonished at the dynamic natural creation.

Tahōtō (National Treasure)

Picture of Tahōtō

This two-storied Pagoda was built in 1194 CE with a donation from Minamoto no Yoritomo. It is considered as the oldest and most elegant pagoda in Japan. The Vairocana (Dainichi) Buddha of Kamakura period (1185-1333) is enshrined here.

Exhibition of Ishiyamadera and Murasaki Shikibu (Lady Murasaki)

Picture of The Tale of Genji

At the Hōjōden (Museum) an exhibition is held in every Spring (March 18-June 30) and Fall (September 1- November 30). It displays the contents related to the history and culture of Ishiyamadera, including Murasaki Shikibu and The Tale of Genji. Please do not miss.

Hours & Entrance Fees

Ishiyamadera Temple 8:00 - 16:30 (Admission until 16:00)

Individual Group (30+)
Adults 600yen 500yen
Junior high school
and high school students
600yen 350yen
Elementary School Student 250yen 200yen
Under 6 Free

Chancel of Hondō (Main Shrine) 8:00 - 16:30

Individual Group (30+)
Adults 500yen 400yen
Junior high school
and high school students
Elementary School Student 250yen 250yen
Under 6 Free

Hōjōden (Museum) 10:00-16:00 (Admission until 15:45)

The Spring Term: March 18-June 30
The Fall Term: September 1-November 30

Individual Group (30+)
Adults 300yen 240yen
Junior high school
and high school students
Elementary School Student 150yen 150yen
Under 6 Free

Access

Map, Train route map

Ishiyamadera Temple
1-1-1 Ishiyamadera, Otsu, Shiga, JAPAN 520-0861
http://www.ishiyamadera.or.jp