Enryaku-ji Temple on Mount Hiei
A World Heritage Site, Enryaku-ji Temple is located on Mount Hiei on the border between Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures, and is made up of three areas: the East Pagoda, the West Pagoda and Yokokawa. Founded in 785, Enryaku-ji Temple was built to protect the royal palace on Mount Hiei as it was located to the northeast of the Heian Period capital, an unlucky direction known as "demon's gate." Mount Hiei is where the founders of Japanese sects of Buddhism acquired their training.
The mountain itself is considered sacred, and a spiritual air envelops the area. Konpon-chudo, a National Treasure, is in the East Pagoda area. Although Mount Fuji is today known throughout the world as Japan's famous mountain, in classical Japanese writing, to mention the word "mountain" was to refer to Mount Hiei, the sacred Buddhist land. Points of note include the Eternal Dharma Light, which has burned continuously since first lit by the founder Saicho more than 1,200 years ago, and the Picture of a Hundred Flowers, a ceiling painting that depicts colorful flowers and other plants.
- Open hours:
- The East Pagoda area: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The West Pagoda and Yokokawa areas: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.
Note: Times are subject to change from December through February.
- Adults: 700 yen
Junior high and high school students: 500 yen
Elementary school students: 300 yen
- 420 Sakamoto Honmachi, Otsu, Shiga Prefecture > Map
- • Take Keihan Electric Railway from Sanjo Keihan or Demachiyanagi Station and transfer to the Hieizan Drive Bus. Get off at the Enryaku-ji Bus Center.
- • Take Keihan Electric Railway Ishiyama Sakamoto Line from Sakamoto-hieizanguchi station and transfer to the Sakamoto Cable. Get off at Cable Enryakuji Station.
- • Take Eizan Electric Railway from Yase-Hieizanguchi Station and transfer to the Eizan Cable/Ropeway. Get off at Hiei-Sancho Station.
• For travel around Mount Hiei, a shuttle bus provides convenient transportation from the end of March until the end of November.
• The Eizan Cable and Ropeway are closed during the winter season, except for January 1 to 3.
Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine
Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine was founded about 2,100 years ago at the foot of Mount Hiei. When Enryaku-ji Temple opened on Mount Hiei and the Tendai sect rose to prominence, Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine became the head shrine for the Sanno Shinto sect with some 3,800 shrines throughout Japan. Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine is sometimes called Sanno ("mountain king"), referring to its importance at Mount Hiei. With the monkey as a divine messenger, Sanno provides the benefits of warding off evil and ensuring success. Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-98), the shogun who united Japan, having the childhood name of Hiyoshi-maru and the nickname of monkey, considered Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine important.
Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine was burned to ashes when the shogun Nobunaga Oda (1534-82) attacked Mount Hiei. After his death, Toyotomi is said to have worked to restore the shrine. The Three Bridges of Hiyoshi, said to be gifts from Toyotomi, are the oldest stone bridges in Japan and are designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan. The compound, which extends 400,000 square meters in area, has a picturesque forest through which the Omiya River flows and is dotted with a great many shrines boasting excellent examples of aesthetic architecture. Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine is particularly beautiful in fall and is a wonderful, though lesser-known location for viewing the changing autumn colors when the trees complement the magnificent shrine buildings.
- Open hours:
- 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Adults: 300 yen
Elementary school students: 150 yen
- 5-1-1 Sakamoto, Otsu, Shiga Prefecture > Map
- • Take the Keihan Electric Railway Ishiyama Sakamoto Line to Sakamoto-hieizanguchi station. It is a 10-minute walk.
- • Take the JR Kosei Line to Hieizan Sakamoto Station. It is a 20-minute walk.