I woke up around 7AM at my hotel room (I was staying at 22nd floor of Lake Biwa Otsu Prince Hotel). I remember that I had to move room to the Sky room which is located at higher floor (33th floor). After a nice bath, I went to 35th floor restaurant to get a breakfast. After a good & plenty breakfast, I decided to go to Otsu station as my point of walking tour. I was planning to visit at least three places (which was very ambitious), not knowing that the heavy storm was already brewing at the northern part of Lake Biwa that morning and was heading south to Otsu. That was partly my mistake but the weather in this area indeed was quite unpredictable. It had decided the fate of that ambitious plan and I eventually was only able to visit the first place, which was Miidera Temple. Regardless of the outcome from today, at the end of the day, I had very good experience in Otsu.
Miidera Temple, or also known as Onjō-ji (園城寺), was recommended by the lady at the Otsu visitor center near the Otsu station. She also recommended to go to Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple, which was located further north and had to be accessed by Cable car from Sakamoto. As my third original destination, I wanted to visit Biwako Terrace (which is located even further north and I had to go to Shiga station to access the Biwako Valley Ropeway from there). However, as I mentioned earlier, the other two were just simply impossible to go since they were closed due to heavy storm that hit the Otsu area later that day.
From my hotel, it only took about 15 minutes to reach Otsu station by hotel’s shuttle bus. I stopped by at the Otsu Visitor center that’s located next to the station and acquired some maps and brochures of the area. From there, I walked north, along the narrow street, towards Miidera temple. I had to follow the straight line until I reach a local market and turn left, going through the indoor market. It was a very good sightseeing and I had a chance to greet “Ohayo gozaimasu” to some people that I met on the street. I stopped by at few stores, bakery and took some photos along the way. Without I realized it, I spent a good hour before I reached a big Torii made from stone/concrete. From there, a short walk to the entrance (it was not the main entrance however) of Miidera temple. After paying the entrance fee, I was told to take the stairs to go up.
When I looked at the stairs, I barely could see the top. It was quite an effort to go up using the stairs. While making few brief rests, suddenly it started to rain! As a person coming from Seattle’s Pacific Northwest, this rain was not much and I actually liked it, rather than being in a hot and humid weather. The rain drops, fresh air, and a hint of trees’ scent kinda gave me a boost, as if they were saying “Gambatte kudasai!” to me as I was climbing the stairs that seemed never ending. Surelly I have been in such situation before in the past, but I didn’t feel any difficulties climbing the stairs, despite of I was carrying quite heavy backpack.
When I reached the top, I could see one of the building in the temple complex.