Yoshiminedera Temple 善峯寺
A remote temple set in the hills
Yoshiminedera is a temple in Nishiyama in the far southwest of Kyoto. It was a pilgrimage stop and has two unusual statues of Kannon, the goddess of compassion. The temple offers some wonderful views of Kyoto.
How to Get There
From Kyoto Station , take the JR Kyoto Line to Mukomachi Station.
Well off the beaten track
Yoshiminedera seldom sees international tourists because of how far it is from the city center, so if you're looking for a secluded retreat for the day, look no further.
Kannon in different incarnations
The temple was founded as a personal retreat by a priest in 1029. As many of Kyoto's temples were, it was destroyed in the Onin War in 1467, and rebuilt in 1621.
Two Kannon (Bodhisattva of compassion) statues remain as the temple's main objects of worship. One, featuring 11 heads, was carved by the founding priest; the other, with a thousand arms, was a gift from the emperor soon after the temple was founded.
Yoshiminedera's grounds are quite extensive. The hondo (main hall) is just after the entrance gate at the base of the mountain. Beside it is the treasure house, in which some of the temple's artifacts are displayed.
From there, paths criss-cross up the mountainside, dotted with several smaller subtemples, a style reminiscent of Kiyomizudera on the other side of Kyoto. As you walk up the mountain the views of Kyoto and its surroundings are quite stunning.
A dragon tree glides low to the ground
The grounds feature some treasured trees, one of which is the 600-year-old "Gliding Dragon" pine tree, which is 40 meters wide but only two meters tall. It is said to possess the longest branch (bolstered by a bamboo trellis) in Japan.
The temple, isolated as it is in the mountains, is beautiful in any season, but particularly in the fall when the autumn colors light up the mountainside in fiery hues.
A stop on the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage
Yoshiminedera is the 20th of 33 temples on the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage, an ancient route of about 1,000 kilometers that stops at temples throughout Kansai that are dedicated to Kannon. It is located near the base of Mt. Ponpon, which is great for a day hike.