Mimurotoji: A Hydrangea Paradise in Kyoto

Not far away from Japan’s infamous Byodo-in in Uji lies Mimurotoji Temple [三室戸寺], the 10th temple of Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage. However, right around the rainy season, this temple is particularly famous for its luscious hydrangea garden. Mimurotoji’s hydrangea garden is one of the best of its kind in the Kansai region and attracts many people from far and wide.

The History of Mimurotoji Temple

According to temple legend, the temple’s origins date back to the 8th century when Emperor Konin saw an odd golden beam of light in the palace. He sent one of his trusted nobles to find the source of this unusual light. After several days of journeying, the noble discovered the light radiating from a large statue of Kannon Bosatsu in the Uji River.

However, when he jumped into the river to retrieve that statue, it began to get smaller and smaller. By the time he got to the statue, it was a fraction of its original size. Much later, the same noble carved a bigger version of the same to mimic the one his originally saw. Eventually, Mimurotoji Temple was created to enshrine those statues.

Temple Grounds

We went during prime hydrangea season on a Wednesday and there were plenty of people in the temple. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait to get in, but I am sure that during the weekends, there would be long lines.

While Mimurotoji’s garden is quite big, its temple grounds themselves are fairly small.  Once you climb up the stairs, you will see the main building

Gate of Mimurotoji
Gate of Mimurotoji
Climb up the stairs

The main building, 10th of Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage, was built in the early 19th century. As I mentioned in the history section, one small Kannon statues was embedded inside of the large Kannon statue, but the large was burnt down by the fire and the current main deity is the small one that survived the fire. Unfortunately, this Kannon statue is usually not open to the public and are very occasionally disclosed.

Mimuroto-ji temple main temple building framed with lotus leaves
Hondo of Mimurotoji

After visiting the main building, you should walk around some as it is quite quaint temple.

Amidado in Mimurotoji
Amida-do: Former site of the grave of Hino no Arinori, the father of the monk Shinran
Jyuuhachi Shrine
It is the guardian shrine, built in 15th century, making it the oldest building in the temple grounds.

Something interesting about this temple, are its unusual “lucky” stones.

Touch the tail for luck with money, the mustache for heath, and ears for general fortune.
If you can balance the oblong-shaped stone inside the ball, you will have good health.

Hydrangea Garden

Once you enter the temple, you will see its huge and stunning hydrangea garden. It has about 50 different breeds for a total of 10,000 of hydrangea. It is fair to say this temple is one of the best hydrangea gardens in Kansai region.

Hydrangea Garden in Mimurotoji
Hydrangea Garden in Mimurotoji
Hydrangea!!
hydrangea in Mimurotoji
This is hydrangea too (it is gaku ajisai)
It is just pretty!

This year was a bit drier than usual so the hydrangea weren’t quite as full as they usually are. Despite Kanto being in the middle of its rainy season, we’ve yet to see any real rain here in Kansai.

In the middle of hydrangea garden is a little café where you can enjoy hydrangea-inspired food!

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