Manidera Temple

Manidera Temple 摩尼寺

Jake Davies

Manidera Temple is an important mountain temple located on Mount Mani, north of Tottori city and not far from the Tottori Sand Dunes.

Manidera Temple, Tottori Prefecture.
More than 300 stone steps lead up the mountainside to Manidera Temple near Tottori City
Manidera Temple, Tottori Prefecture.
Nio guardian, sometimes called Kongorishiki, at Manidera Temple, Tottori


Manidera was founded in 834 by the important Tendai priest Ennin (793-864), a disciple of Saicho, the founder of Tendai. He spent many years studying in China and the esoteric teachings he brought back with him helped revive the fortunes of the Tendai sect that had been somewhat overshadowed by the rival Shingon sect's esoteric Buddhist power. He became the head of the Tendai sect and the founding of various famous temples is credited to him including Onjoji, also known as Miidera in Otsu in Shiga Prefecture,  and the shrine temple complex to Benzaiten on Chikubu Island in Lake Biwa.

The original temple was on the mountaintop, a little higher than its present location, but it was destroyed by the army of Hideyoshi in 1581 during the 200 day siege of Tottori Castle. With the onset of the Edo Period, the castle was controlled by the Ikeda Clan and they rebuilt the temple at its present location and made it the kimon - a temple to protect the castle from the spiritually dangerous north east direction, similar to the function of Enryakuji Temple protecting Kyoto.

Manidera Temple, Tottori City.
Main Hall of Manidera mountain temple near Tottori
Manidera Temple main hall, Tottori City.
Intricate relief carving above the entrance to the main hall at Manidera

Ascent to Manidera

Manidera Temple is reached up a narrow valley. Where the steps begin their steep ascent is a cluster of restaurants and souvenir shops, though somewhat rundown and faded they suggest that the temple was in times past a popular destination.

More than 300 steps lead up the steep mountainside, and about halfway up is the grand and imposing middle gate housing a pair of Nio guardians. The main temple complex is composed of numerous structures with statuary dotted about.

The main hall houses the honzon, the main deity worshiped, which is a Thousand-armed Kannon, though it is a "hidden Buddha" and cannot be seen. A smaller Enma Hall houses a statue of Enma, the "King of Hell" and several of his assistants.

Derived originally from the Hindu deity Yama, in his Buddhist guise he not only rules over the underworld, but is a judge that determines a person's fate after death. In the grounds is a large statue of Kannon set in a large basin of water. This water comes from the mountain spring and has a reputation for healing, which may be one of the reasons for the temple's popularity. Another reason may be that unlike many other mountain temples, Manidera was not off-limits to women.

Manidera Temple, Tottori City.
The water at Manidera Temple is famed for its healing qualities


624 Kakuji, Tottori-shi
Tottori 680-0003
Tel: 0857 23 5300

By bus from Tottori Station bound for Kitazono Danchi, get off at the Kakuji stop, but it is still a 40 minute walk uphill.

Manidera is one of the un-numbered temples on the relatively new Chugoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage.


If you are staying in Tottori you have a fairly wide variety of hotels and ryokan to choose from. Some recommended places are the 4-star Misasa Royal Hotel with an open-air hot-spring bath (rotemburo) and aromatherapy massages, the Japanese style Hannaya Bekkan with tatami floors and futon bedding and the business style Tottori Washington Hotel Plaza. Also near Tottori Station is the budget Y Pub & Hostel Tottori.

See a listing of hotels in Tottori.

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