Miidera Temple 三井寺（長等山園城寺）
A temple built by a long-ago emperor to honor a murdered nephew
Miidera Temple has sacred springs, imperial relics, and important Buddhist art.
One of the four great temples
Particularly famous for its cherry blossoms
Formally known as Nagarasan Onjoji Temple
How to Get There
From Kyoto , take the JR and Keihan Line to Miidera Station (20-30 minutes) and then walk 10 minutes. You can also take the JR Tokaido Main Line to Otsu Station (10 minutes from Kyoto) and take the Keihan Bus to the Miidera Temple bus stop (15 minutes). Note that the Tokaido Main Line is also known as the Biwako Line in this area.
Springs, sculptures, and sakura
Emperor Tenmu founded Onjoji Temple at the foot of Mount Hiei in 672 in tribute to his murdered nephew. About 200 years later, it became known as Miidera Temple in honor of the three (mi) wells or springs (ii), inside. The water from the springs was used in ceremonies to wash three emperors, Tenchi, Tenmu, and Jito.
The main hall was built in 1084, but the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi destroyed the building in the late 1500s. It was rebuilt in 1599.
Today, the main hall and the Buddha Hall contain numerous treasured sculptures of the Buddha. There are also priceless personal belongings of ancient emperors, some of which are only displayed on special occasions.
The head temple
For the faithful, Miidera is the head temple of the Jimon sect of Tendai Buddhism. It is also number 14 on the pilgrimage of 33 temples devoted to Kannon, the Buddhist deity of mercy and compassion.
For everyone else, it's a beautiful place for a quiet moment of reflection, although things are livelier in cherry blossom season.
In the Akaiya building that houses the sacred spring, look for the wooden dragon sculpture. Legend has it that the sculptor had to put spikes in its eyes to keep it from escaping every night and terrorizing the locals.