A temple designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 1200 years of history and tradition
Mt. Hiei Enryakuji Temple is a renowned temple located on Mt. Hiei, which is a sacred mountain on the border between Shiga and Kyoto in japan. The temple holds a significant place in Japanese Buddhism as it serves as the head temple of the Tendai-shu (Tendai sect). With a history of 1200 years, Mt. Hiei Enryakuji Temple was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
The temple was established on the hillside of the main peak Obiei, which stands at an altitude of 848 meters above sea level. It was founded in the year 788 by Saicho, a monk who was born near Lake Biwa. Saicho developed his talents as a monk from an early age and went on to establish the Tendai-shu Buddhist sect. Mt. Hiei became a training ground for monks and played a crucial role in the development of Japanese Buddhism.
One of the highlights of Mt. Hiei Enryakuji Temple is the Fumetsu-no-Hoto, also known as the immortal light of Buddhism. This sacred object is located in the Konpon Chu-do, the main temple hall of the temple. It is said that the Fumetsu-no-Hoto has been burning for 1200 years, with the oil being replenished daily. Visitors can view this miraculous flame and experience the spiritual atmosphere of the temple.
Another attraction of the temple is the Suikinkutsu, a unique musical instrument that produces beautiful sounds. The Suikinkutsu is located in front of the Amida-do, another building within the temple grounds. Visitors can listen to the serene sounds created by drops of water falling into an underground jar, creating a calming and meditative ambiance.
In addition to its spiritual significance, Mt. Hiei Enryakuji Temple offers breathtaking views of Lake Biwa and the city of Kyoto. Situated on a mountain, the temple provides a vantage point from which visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The picturesque scenery, especially during the autumn season when the leaves change color, is a sight to behold.
Now, let’s explore how to reach Mt. Hiei Enryakuji Temple. If you are traveling from Tokyo, Osaka, or Nagoya, the best way to reach the temple is by taking the Shinkansen (bullet train) to JR Kyoto Station. From there, you can take the Hieizan Drive Bus to the Enryakuji Bus Center. The bus ride takes approximately 70 minutes. Please note that the bus service does not operate from early December to late March.
Alternatively, you can take a train from JR Kyoto Station to the foot of Mt. Hiei and ride the cable car or ropeway up to Enryakuji Temple. This option allows you to enjoy a scenic journey and a unique transportation experience.
It is important to note that Mt. Hiei Enryakuji Temple is divided into three main areas: To-do, Sai-to, and Yokawa. Each area has its own main temple hall and offers a different experience. To-do is the central area of the temple and is centered around the Konpon Chu-do. This area is known as the birthplace of the temple and has expanded over the years despite several fires. The Konpon Chu-do houses a statue of Yakushi Nyorai, also known as the Medicine Buddha, and the Fumetsu-no-Hoto.
Sai-to is located approximately 1 kilometer away from To-do and was built by Encho, the successor of Saicho. The Ninai-do hall in Sai-to is known for its strict ascetic practices, and the Shaka-do serves as the main temple hall of this area. Yokawa, situated 5 kilometers from Sai-to, was opened by the third Tendai-zasu Ennin. The main temple hall in Yokawa, called Yokawa Chu-do, is a stage-like structure inspired by the ships that Japanese envoys used during the Tang Dynasty.
One of the highlights of visiting Mt. Hiei Enryakuji Temple is the opportunity to enjoy the superb views from the mountain. Whether you choose to drive along the Hieizan Driveway or take the SAKAMOTO CABLE, you will be treated to breathtaking views of the autumn leaves and Lake Biwa. The winding roads and cable car ride offer a unique perspective of the surrounding landscape.
If you prefer a more relaxed experience, you can visit the lounge on the first floor of the Enryakuji Kaikan in the To-do area. From here, you can enjoy a warm cup of tea while taking in the scenic views. Additionally, you have the option to stay overnight at the Kaikan, where you can enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding scenery from the rooms and public bath.
For those looking to explore other attractions in the area, there are several temples and resorts in the vicinity of Mt. Hiei Enryakuji Temple. Miidera Temple and Ishiyamadera Temple are two grand temples that are worth a visit. Additionally, the Biwako Valley resort complex offers great views of Lake Biwa, and the Ogoto Onsen hot spring provides a relaxing experience. The MIHO MUSEUM, with its impressive art collections, is also a popular destination for art enthusiasts.
In conclusion, Mt. Hiei Enryakuji Temple is a remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site with a rich history and tradition spanning 1200 years. The temple offers a spiritual and serene atmosphere, magnificent views of the surrounding landscape, and the opportunity to explore other cultural and natural attractions in the area. Whether you are a religious pilgrim, a history enthusiast, or a nature lover, a visit to Mt. Hiei Enryakuji Temple is sure to be a memorable and enriching experience.
Address And Maps Location:
4220 Sakamoto Honmachi, Otsu-shi, Shiga-ken