This is a temple on the sacred large wollastonite, a natural monument, where the noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu came up with the idea of the novel “Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji)”
This is the head temple of the Shingon school on the bank of the Seta River, which flows from Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan. There are strange rocks erected all over the precincts, including the large rock towering in front of the Hondo (main shrine). This stone is wollastonite, a natural monument and a globally rare stone. The temple was given the name “Ishiyama”, which means stone mountain, because it stands on a huge stone. It was founded in 747 during the Nara period, and is said to have been built by the monk Roben Sojo under an imperial decree from Emperor Shomu.
Hondo, the main shrine houses Nyoirin Kannon as the principle image of the temple, which is the only hidden statue of Bodhisattva under the imperial order of the Emperor. Hondo, Shiga’s oldest wooden building, and Japan’s oldest Tahoto pagoda, which is said to have been donated by Minamono no Yoritomo, are both designated national treasures. There are many valuable buildings dotted in the precincts, such as Tsukimitei Pavilion, which has been the throne room of successive emperors since Emperor Goshirakawa, Todaimon Gate, and Mieido Hall, all of which are important cultural properties.
During the Heian period, aristocrats began to make pilgrimages to Ishiyamadera Temple, as well as many female writers, including Murasaki Shikibu, who is said to have gotten the idea for the Tale of Genji while visiting here. In Hondo, the main hall, there is the Genji-no-ma (The room of Genji) where her inkstone and a painting of her are displayed.
This temple is also a Japan Heritage Site as part of the “Lake Biwa and its Surrounding Waters: the Water Heritage of Prayers and Lifestyle”. The autumn moon at Ishiyama is one of the eight views of Omi, and the scenery including the autumn foliage is beautiful throughout the year.
On the approach to Ishiyamadera Temple, there are restaurants offering local food such as Seta freshwater clams, Funazushi (sushi with crucian carp), and Omi beef, as well as souvenir shops selling local products, and hot spring inns.
A rare temple built on a rare natural monument, wollastonite.
This is where Murasaki Shikibu got the idea for the Tale of Genji.
There are many national treasures and important cultural properties scattered in the precincts.
The autumn moon at Ishiyama is one of the eight views of Omi.
The principle image of the temple “Nyoirin Kannon” is the only hidden statue of Bodhisattva under the imperial order of the Emperor.
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- Name in Japanese
- Postal Code
- 1-1-1 Ishiyamadera, Otsu City, Shiga
- Open every day
- 8:00am-4:30pm (last entry: 4:00pm)
- 600 yen, Entry to the chancel of Hondo 500 yen
1) a 10-min walk from Ishiyamadera Station on the Keihan Ishiyama-zaka main Line.
2) Take the Keihan bus from JR Ishiyama Station on the JR Biwako Line to Ishiyamadera Stop.
- Official Website
- Official Website (English)