Tourist spot in Shiga Prefecture

Enryakuji temple [延暦寺]

Konpon-chudo of Enryakuji
Konpon-chudo of Enryakuji

Daikodo of Enryakuji
Daikodo of Enryakuji
Photo by Kyoto Free Photo

Map of Mount Hiei

Enryakuji is the head temple of Tendai sect which was introduced to Japan from China.
It is located near the top of Mount Hiei.

This temple was founded by high priest Saicho in 822.

Saicho (767-822) became a priest at the age of 15, and entered in Todaiji in Nara at the age of 20.

But he founded a small temple on Mount Hiei to study Buddhism on his own at the age of 23.

In 805, when he was 38 years old, he went to China to study Buddhism.
And he learned Tendai Buddhism (Chinese Tiantai school).

In 806, he introduced Tendai Buddhism to Japan.
He wanted to found new temple for Tendai Buddhism but that was not allowed, because the temples in Nara were on the conservative side.

In 822, that was allowed, at last.
But that was 7 days after he died.

The formal name "Enryakuji" was given for the temple in 824, and this temple had gained full independence.

Amidado and Toto pagoda of Enryakuji
Amidado and Toto pagoda

Monjurou gate of Enryakuji
Monjurou gate of Enryakuji

Enryakuji is located to the northeast of central Kyoto, and is at the unhappy direction in a Japanese traditional cosmology.

Therefore, this temple became important to guard Kyoto city, and had produced many great priests.
Many priests are still doing hard training in this temple.

Enryakuji is in Otsu city, but it is one of 17 constructions of "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto" designated as a World Heritage Site.

Konpon-chudo in Todo
Konpon-chudo in Todo

Shakado in Saito
Shakado in Saito
Photo by Hieizan Enryakuji

Enryakuji has three precincts in Mount Hiei.

Tôdô (東塔) is the central precinct where Saicho founded the temple first.
There are many buildings in the area in a range of 700 meters from east to west.

Konpon-chudo (根本中堂) is the main hall of Enryakuji.

Saicho built a small temple first there, and current hall was rebuilt in 1642.
The width is about 38 meters and the height is about 24 meters.
It is designated as a national treasure.

Corridor of Ninaido in Todo
Corridor of Ninaido in Todo

Yokawa-chudo in Yokawa
Photo by Hieizan Enryakuji

Saitô (西塔) is the precinct located about 1 km northwest of Tôdô.

There are some buildings, and Shakado (釈迦堂) is the main temple.

Yokawa (横川) is the precinct located about 4 km north of Tôdô.

There are some buildings, and Yokawa-chudo (横川中堂) is the main temple.


How to get here

By route bus from Kyoto

About 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes by route bus from Kyoto station.

By cable car from Kyoto side

  1. By Keihan Railway, go to Demachiyanagi terminal station.
  2. By Eizan Railway, about 26 minutes from Demachiyamagi to Yase-Hieizan-guchi.
  3. By cable car, about 9 minutes to the mountainside.
  4. By ropeway, about 3 minutes to the top.
  5. To Enryakuji, we can use shuttle bus. About 6 minutes.

By cable car from Otsu side

  1. By Keihan railway, go to Sakamoto station. About 16 minutes from Hama-Otsu.
  2. By route bus, about 4 minutes from Sakamoto to the cable car station.
    (The distance is about 1 km. If you walk, it takes about 15 minutes.)
  3. By cable car, about 11 minutes to the top.
  4. About 10 minutes walk to Enryakuji.

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