Ishiyamadera Temple is a gorgeous temple complex that played a major role in the history of Japan. It was constructed around 747 and takes its name "stone mountain" from the unusual stone outcropping on which it is built.
See the unusual wollastonite National Monument
Visit the room dedicated to Japan's first novelist, Lady Murasaki
Don't miss the ancient Chinese artifacts
Ishiyamadera is accessible by JR train.
From Kyoto, take the Keihan Ishiyama Sakamoto line to Ishiyamadera Station, and then walk 10 minutes. From Kyoto or other locations, you can also take the JR Tokaido main line to Ishiyama Station and change there for the Keihan Ishiyama Sakamoto Line to Ishiyamadera Station.
The temple looms large in Japanese cultural history. This is where a full moon inspired Murasaki Shikubu to begin writing her book The Tale of Genji in 1004, giving Japan its first novel and perhaps the world's. The temple maintains a room and statues in her honor.
The moonlight on Lake Biwa as seen from Ishiyamadera has also been memorialized as one of the Eight Views of Omi, a motif in Japanese art for centuries. The view was captured in ukiyo-e woodcut prints by Harunobo and the legendary Hiroshige, who is said to have inspired Vincent van Gogh.
Ishiyamadera is one of the 33 temples in the Kansai region making up a pilgrimage dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist deity of mercy and compassion. Given its spiritual significance, it also houses numerous National Treasures and important works of religious art.