On the west mountain side of Kyoto, near the border between Osaka and Kyoto, is the quaint Yoshiminedera Temple [善峯寺]. While this temple is the 20th temple of Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage, it is better known for its cheerful and sweeping hydrangea garden and spectacular views of Kyoto.
The History of Yoshiminedera
The origin of Yoshiminedera dates back to the 11th century when a monk from Enryaku-ji, Gensan, built a little hut to enshrine a statue of Senju Kannon. The hut was eventually named “Yoshiminedera”. Some time later, Emperor Gosuzaku brought another Kannon statue to Yoshiminedera to be enshrined one of the temple’s main deities.
From this point on, various emperors made donations to Yoshime and the temple gradually grew. Sadly, the entire temple burnt down in the Onin War. All of the current temple buildings were rebuilt under the instruction of Lady Keisho-in, the mother of 5th Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi.
After a 15-minute walk, you will see the main gate of Yoshiminedera.
You will see the main temple building, the Kannon-do, as soon as you enter the temple grounds. The Kannon-do does house two Kannon statues, but unfortunately neither of them are on display to the public.
At first glance, you may think this temple is not that big, but that isn’t true at all! The temple complex spread throughout the mountainside and it can take about 30 minutes to walk the entire temple complex and then an additional 30 minutes or so to enjoy hydrangea. There is also a great view of Kyoto City at the highest point of the temple complex.
Points of Interest
In front of the pagoda, there is an interesting pine tree called Yuryumatsu, which surprisingly, is a designated national natural monument. This pine tree allegedly 600 years old 37m long! It is so wide that many people say it looks like a dragon playing.
At Yoshiminedera’s garden, around the rainy season every year, you will see tens of thousands of hydrangeas in bloom. It is indeed as pretty as famous hydrangea temple, Mimuroto-ji, but Yoshiminedera has significantly less people.
Because Yoshiminedera is in the deep of the mountains, the hydrangea bloom a bit later than in the city. They usually come into full bloom around the end June or early July.
Information: Yoshiminedera Temple
1372 Oharano Oshiocho, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
The closets stations to Yoshiminedera Temple are Mukomachi Station [向日町駅] off the JR Kyoto Line or the Higashi-muko Station [東向日駅] on the Hankyu Kyoto Line. From either station, take a Hankyu bus #66 bound for Yoshiminedera. The bus will take roughly 25 minutes to the temple.
Once you get off the bus, you have to climb up a long, steep slope for 15 minutes, as the temple is located on the top of the mountain.
Do keep an eye on the time, as buses to Yoshiminedera only run once an hour. Moreover, in the winter the bus service ends at the Koshio stop, meaning you will have to walk about an hour to the temple from the last stop.