Home > Around Japan > Rainy Season 2010: Places You Must Visit Top 5 – No.5

Rainy Season 2010: Places You Must Visit Top 5 – No.5

This article was written by me for BiOS Blog on May 18, 2010.

Today we will introduce the no.5 in the Top 5 list of places to visit during the rainy season in Japan.

Mimuroto-ji – Kyoto

Mimuroto-ji, the Temple of Ajisai (Hydrangea in English), is the tenth temple of The Western 33 Temples where amulets are offered to pilgrims.

Despite the centenial history of this Temple, the hydrangeas (‘ajisai’) or sometimes also referred as the flower of ‘tsuyu’ (rainy season) are the main attractions during the monsoons.

In the rainy season, the hydrangea blooms and changes its color from blue to red in the rain. The hydrangea originally comes from Japan. In 1879 (Meiji era), an English gardener brought a hydrangea back to the UK and varieties were bred from this seed in the West. Some were brought back to Japan, and now, the most popular and usual hydrangea is a variety from the West.

History
After being established by Emperor Kōnin in 770, the temple was supported by imperial patronage and so it prospered during the Heian era (792 – 1192) when it was a popular place for court outings. It was rebuilt after it was entirely burnt in a fire in 1460, but when its properties were confiscated after being lost in a battle in 1573, the temple fell into decline. The current buildings were rebuilt in 1805 after yet another fire destroyed the temple.

During the civil war of the late 16th century, the monks of Mimurotoji supported the puppet shogun Yoshiaki Ashikaga, and the temple was completely destroyed by the opposing forces of Oda Nobunaga. At that time the temple bell was confiscated along with many other temple treasures. When the temple was later restored by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, daimyō Mashita Nagamori (1545 – 1615) had the remains of the bell in his possession. All that remained of the bell was just the ornamental bronze head, in the shape of a dragon. Thinking that this ornament would be of no use to the temple, he decided to keep it. However, on making this decision he was suddenly struck down with serious illness and it was thought that perhaps the bell was in fact cursed. So Nagamori sent the remains of the bell back to Mimurotoji, along with a large offering of rice. With that, his health improved and thereafter he continued to send yearly offerings to the temple in gratitude.

How to get there:
• 30 minutes from Shijo station to Mimurodo station via Chushojima station on Keihan Railway, then 15 minutes on foot.
• Keihan-Uji-Bus Company operates several times a day from JR Uji Station to Mimuroto-ji via Keihan Uji station.

For more information visit the official website:
Mimurotoji Official Website 三室戸寺 (available only in Japanese)

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Alex Kawano.
Official HE Blog Author

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