Oct 2022 04
Saimyo-ji Temple

Saimyo-ji Temple | What an elegant moss garden…
A gentle priest full of wisdom and a black cat stay quietly there.

西明寺 | 世にも風雅な苔庭。

The refreshing, soft and cool sound of the leaves of the trees. A black cat with beautiful coat lies down leisurely. It is a scenery that symbolizes the calm land of Koto (The area east of Lake Biwa).
Saimyo-ji is a Buddhist temple of the Tendai sect called Koto Sanzan along with Kongorin-ji and Hyakusai-ji. The chief priest kindly tolled me about the essence and transition of the temple in a polite, careful and quiet manner.


The lush moss carpet spreads forever. It's a spectacular sight as if the emeralds shine in the sunlight. The nationally designated scenic spot "Horai Garden" is an Enshu style garden with azaleas trimmings and garden stones arranged on an artificial hill that makes use of the slopes, centered on “Shinji Pond”, the pond with Tsurushima and Kameshima floating. On the slope behind, the three Buddhist deities of the principal idol, “Bhaisajyaguru Buddha (Yakushi Nyorai)”, “Suryaprabha Bodhisattva (Nikko Bosatsu)”, and “Cadraprabha Bodhisattva (Gakko Bosatsu)”, and the stonework that resembles 12 gods are arranged. There a mysterious world spreads out.


The approach leading to the main hall. There used to be monks lined up on both sides.
Under the influence of Mt. Hiei in the Middle Ages, it became a prosperous dojo for the Tendai sect, and at that time there were more than 300 monks in the precincts.


Towering along the approach is a 1000-year-old cedar tree. It is called "Meotosugi"(Couple's cedar) because the two trees that were originally apart are now close together and grow together. It has been popular as a sacred tree that brings good relations, marital harmony, childbirth, and easy delivery.


Climbing the stone steps and passing through the “Nitenmon Gate”, which was built in the early Kamakura period, reveals the majestic stance of the main hall designated as a national treasure. It was built by the craftsmen from Hida without using any nails. The roof has a very elegant appearance that is representative of the Kamakura period.


On the right side of the main hall, there is a three-storied pagoda, also made by the craftsmen from Hida. On one side of the first floor, you can see beautifully colored paintings that you can't imagine in this world. Paintings by Kose school painters include Lotus Sutra, Eight Dragon Kings, 32 Bodhisattvas, and Flowers and Birds. There is no other mural painting in such a good condition from the Kamakura period, which is extremely valuable.


When Mt. Hiei was burned down by Nobunaga Oda, Saimyo-ji was also burned down and the precincts were engulfed in flames. At this time, the monks were smart and burned the buildings near the main hall more violently, pretending that the entire precincts were on fire. As a result, the main hall, the three-storied pagoda, and the “Nitenmon Gate” were able to prevent their burning.
I would like to express my respect to the many monks and the gentle priests who have carefully protected such precious cultural properties.


about this venue

Saimyo-ji Temple

A temple of the Tendai sect that is one of Koto Sanzan (the three temples of Koto). It is said that during the Heian period, Sanshu Shonin opened the temple at the request of Emperor Ninmyo. It was desolate due to fire during the Warring States period, but was revived by Yukan Mochizuki in the middle of the Edo period.

Cultural property designated by the prefecture:
Seated wooden statue of Mahavairocana, Gilded box with peacock decoration

Location: 26 Ikedera, Koura-cho, Inukami-gun, Shiga Prefecture
Phone: 0749384008


<国宝>本堂 三重塔
<重文>木造薬師如来立像 木造釈迦如来立像 木造不動明王および二童子像(3躯) 木造二天王立像、絹本著色十二天画像 錦幡 石像宝塔 二天門
<県指定>木造十二神将 木造二天王立像 絹本着色文珠菩薩像 唐櫃 法華経板木 紺紙金地蘇悉地羯羅供養法巻上 金銅錫枕頭 金銅密教法具 木造大日如来坐像 鍍金孔雀文説相筥

所在地: 滋賀県犬上郡甲良町池寺26
電話: 0749-38-4008