Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Konan Sanzan – The Three Most Scenic Temples South of Lake Biwa

At the south of Japan’s largest lake, Lake Biwa, three temples were erected in the early 8th century. Each has a worship hall designated as a National Treasure in its precinct. Together, the three Tendai sect temples have been known as the ‘Konan Sanzan (湖南三山)’ since 2005. But nowadays, instead of the national treasures, what attracts most tourists is the scenery in autumn. Read on, and you will find out why!

Getting to Konan Sanzan by Public Transportation

The three Konan Sanzan temples aren’t close to a train station. For Chōju-ji and Jōraku-ji, get off the train at JR Ishibe Station (石部駅). From there, change for Konan City Community Bus’s (湖南市コミュニティバス) Ishibe Loop Line (石部循環線).

As the number of services is limited, please refer to the below timetable to plan. Because only the Japanese version is available, please use the Japanese bus stop name to read. Please refer to the access information for each temple to which bus stop to get off.

  • HERE is the timetable for weekdays.
  • HERE is the timetable for weekends and public holidays.
  • If a particular service is marked “通過”, it means it won’t stop at the specific stop.

For Zensui-ji, get off the train at JR Kōsei Station (甲西駅). From there, change for Konan City Community Bus’s (湖南市コミュニティバス) Shimoda Line (下田線). Please refer to HERE for the service’s timetable.

The Cherry Blossom and Fall Foliage Season at Konan Sanzan

  • The cherry trees at Chōju-ji usually bloom from early to mid-April.
  • The 1,500 azaleas at Jōraku-ji will blossom from mid-April to mid-May.
  • The autumn foliage season at Chōju-ji usually peaks from mid-November to early December.
  • One of the most popular photography spots in Chōju-ji is the 200-meter approach that fallen red leaves will cover in late November.
  • In 2023, the Konan Sanzan Autumn Festival (湖南三山紅葉めぐり) was held from 9 am to 4 pm from the 10th to the 30th of November.

Chōju-ji Temple (長寿寺)

Ⓒ びわこビジターズビューロー

In the Ishibe region of Konan City, Chōju-ji is a temple with breathtaking scenery. Adding to the temple’s charm, adorable decorations and paper-cutting art can be found throughout the precinct. So, if you travel with children, Chōju-ji is probably the most kid-friendly temple in the region.

For more information, refer to our article on Chōju-ji!

Jōraku-ji Temple (常楽寺)


If you want to avoid the crowds at Kyoto‘s famous autumn foliage spots, consider visiting Jōraku-ji, the best place in southern Shiga Prefecture to adore the vivid fall colors from mid-November to early December. While there aren’t many bus services that stop close to the temple, the scenery here will amaze you!

For more information, refer to our Jōraku-ji article!

Zensui-ji Temple (善水寺)


While Zensui-ji (善水寺) isn’t close to the other two temples of Konan Sanzan, it is still a temple that is worth the travel. Like Chōju-ji and Jōraku-ji, Zensui-ji has a beautiful precinct and houses a national treasure. In addition, the temple with a Healing Buddha as the main image has sacred water for visitors to take home!

For more information, refer to our Zensui-ji article!

Discover the Fascinating Attractions in Kōka City

Click the photo to find out more about this breathtaking scenery!

Kōka City, close to the Konan Sanzan, is known for its ninja-themed attractions and is the hometown of one of the Six Ancient Kilns in Japan.

Furthermore, there are a couple of hidden gems for cherry blossom and fall foliage hunting. So check out our article on Kōka City and start planning your next trip (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *