Established in 672, over a century before the founding of Kyoto, Mii-dera gets its name for its three springs ('mi' means 'three' and 'i' means 'spring'). The highlight is the Hondō (main hall), last rebuilt in 1599, a National Treasure with a rare hiwatabuki (thatched cedar-bark) roof. Behind the main altar is a collection of Buddhist statues, the oldest of which date to the Heian era (794–1185). Adjacent to the main hall is a big temple bell you can ring (¥300).

There are many sub-temples, including one to Kannon (Buddhist goddess of mercy), around the forested grounds. Stop for some sweets and tea at Chikara Mochi.

The temple is a seven-minute walk from Mii-dera Station on the Keihan Ishiyama-Sakamoto line; you can also walk there in 15 minutes from Keihan Hama-Ōtsu Station and in 30 minutes from JR Ōtsu Station.

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