Hiding on the mysterious Suzuka mountain range, Kongorinji is the middle of three ancient Tendai Buddhist temples. Kogonrinji is famous in not only Shiga but the entire Kansai by its gorgeous scenery of fall leaves. It is said that the surrounding area is dyed in blazing red like blood flooding over all the highest point of towers and extended eaves of halls, all the smallest foliage and grandiose old trees, all nooks and crannies of the temple. Autumn is passionate, burning every single fragile leaf hanging on Kongorinji temple's maple trees in its vitalizing fire till they are burnt to red ashes.
Kongorinji temple was constructed in 741 built by Gyoki under the command of Emperor Shomu, before turning into a Tendai Buddhist temple in 850. They often tell a mysterious legend about Kongorinji at the time of its construction, that when Gyoki carved a statue of Kannon from a single trunk, he used a sword to cut the first slash on the trunk and suddenly, a stream of blood overflowing from the wood surface and flowing down. Gyoki and people believed that a soul had descended into the wood and the statue was dedicated as the Kannon of flesh and blood. As the legend spread out over the area, Kongorinji atracted a huge faith from believers across the country.
Kongorinji welcomes visitors by an important cultural property dating in Muromachi Period, the Deva gate. The gate stands on the high foundation over the temple grounds, approached by a long and narrow path and attached with surrounding walls system. There is two gentle sloping stone stairs leading to the gate and when you step up on either, you can see clearly structure of the gate roof above a giant red lantern faded over time. The Main hall is constructed in traditional Japanese style, typically representing for the buildings of Kamakura period. The hall houses an eleven-faced Kannon statue and 13 other statues designated as Important Cultural Properties. Inside Kongorinji precinct, there are also a three storied pagoda reconstructed in 1978 and a Water Cloud Pavilion.
The gardens of Kongorinji were created from the Azuchi-Momoyama period to the middle of the Edo period, designated as a place of Scenic Beauty. The Ikeizumi garden also has a secret can not be told about the soul of cherry trees inside, reflecting by the scene of rare pink flowers appearing in the middle of cold winter around November. Anyway, the early April is still the recommended time to visit the temple to enjoy full blooming cherry trees. Overall, the nature surrounding Kongorinji is famous for blood-red maple leaves in autumn.
Around the precinct of Kongorinji temple, you can count a incredible number of stone Jizo statues up to 1000 ones, most of them lining along the main approach on both sides all the way up the side of the mountain to the temple building. Jizo is a Guardian Bodhisattva, specialized by the red bibs praying for the souls of unborn children. On August 9th of every year, all these statues are lit up with candles.
From 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Last admission at 4:40 pm
From JR Inae Station: catch the bus leaving at 9:17 am, 11:32 am and 3:00 pm on the Biwako/Tokaido Line and get off at Kongorinjimae bus stop. Then take a 1 minute walk from Kongorinjimae bus stop to the temple.
Please notice that buses will not run on weekends.