Chomei-ji Temple sits on the edge of the majestic Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture. It has the honor of being the 31st temple on the Kansai region’s Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage, one of Japan’s oldest and most revered Buddhist paths.
The 11 faces of Kannon
To reach Chomei-ji Temple, you must climb 808 stone steps through a grove of bamboo on Mount Ikiya. On windy days, the bamboo stalks rattle and tap, almost like a pilgrim’s walking pole striking the steps.
Sweeping views of Lake Biwa are worth the hike alone, but as you reach the top of the mountain, the temple’s red roofs and three-storied pagoda will draw your eye. Its striking contrast to the varying shades of green in the forest behind it is awe-inspiring.
Along with the pagoda, the temple grounds contain a bell tower and a surprisingly large main hall to explore. Inside you’ll find an eleven-faced Kannon statue that’s believed to date back to the 12th century.
Every summer, Chomei-ji Temple becomes lush with hydrangeas, but it looks just as lovely—if not more so—blanketed in white snow during winter.
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