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2009
09.05

enryaku-ji

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built atop of mt. hiei (比叡山 hiei-zan), enryaku-ji (延暦寺) was established in the 8th century and is known as the mother of japanese buddhism.

enryaku-ji can be reached from kyoto train station by train and cable car or by bus, the cheaper and quicker alternative. i recommend to take the cable car up if you have a little bit of extra time. the view of the valley in which kyoto rests is beautiful.

the view from the cable car on the up to mr. hiei

the view from the cable car on the up to mr. hiei

the complex is divided into three areas, to-do (東塔), sai-to (西塔), and yokawa (横川). to-do and sai-to in enryaku-ji are must sees in your kyoto schedule.

this place is large, so if you have less than half a day to spend i suggest you go to some of the other wonderful locations in kyoto. not only is this complex spread out over a large area, part of the experience is the walk through the woods in mt. hiei as you leisurely stroll from site to site. after all, enryaku-ji is not a building, rather the entire mountain itself is the temple. if you want, there is also a shuttle and buses that can get you around, especially to yokawa since it is 4km (2.5 miles) from the other two locations.

the path through the woods leading to the joudo-in (浄土院) in sai-to

the path through the woods leading to the joudo-in (浄土院) in sai-to

as you enter enryaku-ji, you will need to purchase a ticket. make sure you hang on to it as it will grant you access to all of the locations. at the ticket booth make sure to get a map (japanese but still useful) and a booklet (english) for good information.

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you should take the time to see all the locations on mt. hiei, but my favorite place is konpon chu-do. the interior garden is beautiful. maybe it was the light at that time of day, but i was really taken by the imagery of the garden with the building around it. this building is the central hall of mt. hiei. in front of the main figure you will notice three lanterns. these bad boys have been kept lit for over 1,200 years! O.O

shaka-do is the main building in sai-to and the oldest in mr. hiei

shaka-do is the main building in sai-to and the oldest in mr. hiei

yokogawa is located far away, however, do not let this discourage you from going if you so wish.

main figure inside daiko-do has wooden statues of the founders of many buddhist schools

main figure inside daiko-do has wooden statues of the founders of many buddhist schools

there is a snack and souvenir shop in to-do with a limited selection, but the prices are relatively high. a slightly better option is to buy snacks and drinks at the shop by the main bus station on mt. hiei. as you can guess, the best and cheapest option is to bring those things with you. i would recommend packing a lunch and having a picnic in the shade so that you can enjoy the atmosphere of enryaku-ji.

hokke soji-in

hokke soji-in

to truly enjoy this place, do not rush through the site thinking that you must see everything in a couple of hours so that you can move on to the next place on your schedule. Take your time and absorb the atmosphere.
when you enter some of the temples, take your time to sit and meditate or just take a breather and relax. if you are lucky you will be present to a monk chanting. it’s a beautiful experience.

monk chanting inside hokke soji-in

monk chanting inside hokke soji-in

stairs leading up to monju-ro, which is located infront of konpon chu-do

stairs leading up to monju-ro, which is located infront of konpon chu-do

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