A short walk in a residential area leads to Mimuroto-ji’s entrance. From there opens a wonderful flower garden covering the foot of the hill up to the temple’s buildings. From April to May, more than 20,000 azaleas, a thousand of rhododendrons as well as 10,000 hydrangeas bloom successively for the pleasure of the eyes. The main path goes straight to a steep stairway to the top of the hill where the main hall Hondo stands.
Up the stairway, the usual fountain for ablutions chozuya welcomes visitors. The main hall Hondo, built in the early 19th century, is dedicated to Bodhisattva Senju-Kannon, whose image is unfortunately hidden to the public. The dark colors of the wooden structure offer a stern contrast with the lush green of the lotus ponds surrounding it. With a closer look and depending on the season, it is possible to see multicolored dragonflies hovering freely in the green environment. A little bit farther is a small pavilion dedicated to Buddha Amida.
Original statues that can bring luck
On the main hall level, three bizarre statues are said to bring luck or grant wishes:
- Ugajin statue, on the right of the stairs near the chozuya, represents a smiling old man’s head on a snake body. This kami’s name is Ugajin, or Koma-hebi, and touching its head or its tail can bring fortune or happiness;
- Koma-ushi, the bull that brings luck when shoving one’s hand into its mouth; and,
- Koma-usagi, a rabbit holding a huge globe with its front legs. A smaller sphere is inserted in the globe, and according to the legend, those who succeed in lifting it have their wishes granted.
The walk continues with the wonderful three-storied pagoda Sanjunoto, of a brilliant vermilion, built at the same time as the main pavilion. The beautiful garden also features a little pond, inhabited by multicolored koi carps that give the place a magical and spiritual atmosphere. Finally, the visit ends in the garden glimpsed at the entrance of the temple. It is the true attraction of the place, which horticulture amateurs must visit in spring to enjoy a lovely, small valley buried in flowers.
How to get to Mimuroto-ji
- JR Line: ~16 minutes by express train on JR Nara Line between Kyoto Station (Departure track 8 or 9) and Uji , then ~20 minutes by local bus n°40
- or Keihan Line: ~29 minutes by train (change at Chushojima) between Sanjo and Mimurodo stations, then ~15 minutes on foot
Location reachable with the JRP : order your Japan Rail Pass (from ~US$ 281)
All year round, except during blooming seasons:
- Adults: ¥500 (~US$ 4.60)
- Children: ¥300 (~US$ 2.70)
During hydrangeas blooming season (June):
- Adults: ¥800 (~US$ 7.30)
- Children: ¥400 (~US$ 3.60)
- Night Illuminations: same prices
Get your Japanese Yens free of charge
Open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (to 4 p.m. from November to March)
Last admission 30 minutes before closing time
Annual closure from December 29 to 31
How long / when to visit
One to two hours
Best during the blooming season from April to June
Mimuroto-ji closes at 3:30 p.m. until the end of May 2020