Enryaku-ji Temple, located on Mount Hiei in Otsu, overlooks all of Kyoto from its serene mountaintop. The temple was founded in 788 in the early Heian period by Saicho, who brought the Tendai sect of Buddhism from China to Japan. He is one of the most important monasteries in Japanese history.
The main hall at Enryakuji is undergoing a ten-year program of renovations that began in 2016. The main hall itself can still be entered, though it is largely covered with scaffolding through the renovation project. More >
Note the opening hours vary by location within the temple.
At its peak, the Enryaku-ji Temple had up to 3,000 sub-temples and a powerful army of martial monks, who often got involved in power struggles with other monasteries and political leaders.
Oda Nobunaga attacked, demolished and killed most of Enryakui's buildings in 1571 in order to eliminate all potential rivals and unite the country. Hence, most of today's temple buildings date from the early Edo period when the Enryaku-ji Temple was rebuilt.
This National Treasure is the most important temple on Mount Hiei. There is said to be a Buddhist icon housed here that was carved by the founder himself in 788.
The Lapis Lazuli Hall is the only original sub-temple to escape the military campaign and subsequent fires of Oda Nobunaga. It is a clear example of Muromachi-period architecture.
Although a 4-kilometer walk from the main temple area, the sights of Yokawa’s main building are a beauty to behold. It also serves as a ceremony-closing dedication spot for pilgrims.
Mount Hiei can be accessed from the Kyoto-side by Eizan Cablecar or from the Shiga-side by Sakamoto Cablecar. The Sakamoto Cablecar operates year-round, while the Eizan Cablecar does not operate during winter. After leaving the cable car, there is a clearly marked path that leads to Enryaku-ji temple.
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