Mangetsu-ji Temple’s Floating Pavilion
Ukimido is a temple hall floating on Lake Biwa and belonging to Mangetsu-ji Buddhist temple in the Katata district of Otsu city, Shiga prefecture. Affiliated to the Zen Rinzai branch, the place provides a truly peaceful visit thanks to a low attendance. Despite its small size, it is worth the detour to admire one of the eight views of Omi from its pier.
Mangetsu-ji temple’s visit begins by the Kannon-do, a first hall dedicated to Kannon, the Bodhisattva of compassion. In addition to the various statues displayed, the ceiling is ornamented with delicate paintings of the various flowers blooming throughout the year, and shows the Japanese’s appreciation of the passing of seasons.
A beautiful pine tree extends its long branches on each sides of the path and above the bridge connecting to the famous Ukimido. The pavilion seems to oscillate to the rhythm of Lake Biwa’s gentle waves, and truly deserves its nickname of "floating temple." It shelters a thousand of Amida Buddha gilded statuettes.
An iconic traditional landscape
The present day’s building was constructed in 1937, but it does not alter the historical beauty of the place. The scenery to observe here is renowned as one of the eight most beautiful views of Omi, named Katata no Rakugan (堅田の落雁), which means "wild geese returning home at Katata." The sight of Ukimido pavilion extending on Lake Biwa, with the mountains in the background, inspired many artists of the Edo period (1603 – 1868) including Matsuo Basho, a famous haiku poet, and Hiroshige, one of the most famous ukiyo-e (Japanese etchings) artists.
Mangetsu-ji temple is one of the must-sees in Otsu. It is better enjoyed at the end of the afternoon, when the sun is setting and dusk falling while the sunset light further enhances the scenery. After visiting the temple, the walk can continue on Biwa-ko’s landscaped shores. Some nice restaurants, such as ペコリーノ Pecorino, complement the visit, with its Italian inspiration and a beautiful outdoor terrace offering a view on the lake and the floating pavilion in summer. The temple is also close to Ogoto onsen ♨️ village.