Mitakidera temple (三瀧寺) in Hiroshima is an atmospheric Shingon buddhist temple dating as far back as 809. The temple grounds have three water falls, which have given the temple the name “Mitakidera” literally meaning “three waterfalls temple”. The buildings are spread along a small path which leads up through the beautiful mountainside forest. The temple is well known for cherry blossoms during spring and red leaves during autumn.
As you enter the grounds of Mitakidera, one of the first things you see is the beautiful, vermilion colored pagoda sitting on a hill to the right of the entrance. The pagoda isn’t original to the temple. It was brought here from Hiro-Hachiman Shrine in Wakayama Prefecture in 1951 as part of a memorial service for the victims of the atomic bomb.
The atmosphere of Mitakidera is what makes it really unique. As you continue to walk along the main path leading up the hill, through the damp, moss covered forest, a unique feeling spreads through the body. This mystical temple seems to have merged with the nature around it. The numerous statues which are spread across the area have slowly been overtaken by nature. Thought to be established by Kukai back in 809, Mitakidera has certainly been in this location for a long time.
The temple of Mitaki is dedicated to Kannon, a bodhisattva who is commonly called the goddess of mercy. It is also part of the Chūgoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, a long buddhist pilgrimage route which leads to 33 Kannon temples around the Chugoku region.
Mitakidera is wonderful and mystical at all times of year. However, a wet autumn day may be the best time to imerese yourself in the mystical atmosphere of this unique forest temple.
All photos © touristinjapan.com
Sokoyama Hiking Path
From Mitakidera it is also possible to access a hiking path which goes to the top of the small mountain Mitakiyama, officially called Sokoyama (宗箇山). The trail leads to a view point where there is an amazing view over Hiroshima city. From the viewpoint it can clearly be seen that Hiroshima is located in a flat river delta full of islands.
The hike itself takes around 2 hours (roundtrip) from Mitakidera. Expect quite a bit of uphill hiking. The trailhead is at the back of the temple area.
? Show trailhead on google maps.
? Show view point on google maps.
On the left side of Mitakidera’s entrance lies a small, cozy cafe which serves both lunch, tea and sweets. The authentic interior and the delicious food contributes to the unique atmosphere of the entire place. After having explored Mitakidera, getting a steaming bowl of noodles, or a hot cup of tea here is perfect way to end the visit.
Cafe at Mitakidera, Hiroshima. © touristinjapan.com
By train: Mitaki Station is the nearest train station to Mitakidera temple. The JR Kabe Line stops here after an 8 minute ride from Hiroshima Station. The train is covered by the Japan Rail Pass. From the station it is necessary to walk to the temple, which takes about 15 minutes.