Enryaku-ji (延暦寺, Enryaku-ji) is a Tendai monastery located on Mount Hiei in Ōtsu, overlooking Kyoto. It was first founded in 788 during the early Heian period (794–1185) by Saichō (767–822), also known as Dengyō Daishi, who introduced the Tendai sect of Mahayana Buddhism to Japan from China. The temple complex has underwent several reconstruction efforts since then, with the most significant (that of the main hall) taking place in 1642 under Tokugawa Iemitsu. Enryaku-ji is the headquarters of the Tendai sect and one of the most significant monasteries in Japanese history. As such, it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)". The founders of Jōdo-shū, Jōdo Shinshū, Sōtō Zen, and Nichiren Buddhism all spent time at the monastery. Enryaku-ji is also the center for the practice of kaihōgyō (aka the "marathon monks").
With the support of Emperor Kanmu, the Buddhist monk Saichō ordained a hundred disciples in 807. Maintaining a strict discipline on Mt. Hiei, his monks lived in seclusion for twelve years of study and meditation. After this period, the best students were retained in positions in the monastery and others graduated into positions in the government. At the peak of its power, Enryaku-ji was a huge complex of as many as 3,000 sub-temples and a powerful army of warrior monks (僧兵, sōhei). In the tenth century, succession disputes broke out between Tendai monks of the line of Ennin and Enchin. These disputes resulted in opposing Tendai centers at Enryaku-ji and at Mii-dera, known respectively as the Mountain Order (山門, sanmon) and the Temple Order (寺門, jimon). Warrior monks were used to settle the disputes, and Tendai leaders began to hire mercenary armies who threatened rivals and even marched on the capital to enforce monastic demands.
Ben Madeley | Mar 1, 2018
The grounds are lovely to walk around as the temples are set up a mountain in the forest overlooking the lake. You will see more spectacular temples that these, but it's an enjoyable place to get away from the crowds.
J. B. | Jul 20, 2017
Vast temple complex on top of Mount Hiei, spread over three sites. It is accessible by bus (1 hour from Kyoto Sanjo) or by cable car. It is historically important as one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan, the head of the Tendai school of Buddhism, and the scene of an important battle during the Sengoku period. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. However the buildings are not that impressive and may not be worth the trouble to get all the way there, unless you have plenty of time or you are a Japanese history buff.
Steven Lee | Mar 16, 2017
I can say that this building is the biggest building in the complex, also probably the most important one. Too bad, it was being renovated at the time I came there, so the outer part is covered by scaffolding, however you can still enter the building. There's written english pamphlet given at the administration entrance.
Kosen Ishikawa | Feb 13, 2017
Amazing temple which has been designated as a "World Cultural Heritage Site." The original temple was founded by Saicho(767-822) in 788. The current temple building was rebuilt during Edo era, but its main Buddha image has been continuously illuminated by the candle light for over 1200 years. No photo taking inside the temple but there are tons of sights for taking pictures in Mt. Hiei.
Erik Visser | Jun 15, 2016
Hiking up to and down from the the monastery complex was wonderful. The temples there however were nice, but not awe inspiring. Nicely quiet though. Toilets were awful. Going up or down the mountain via cable cart will set you back about 10 bucks.
Quendi Cala | Apr 11, 2018
2018/4/10. Sakura almost fully fell. Donlt come for blossoms. Bad traffic system. There are two different cable lines, kensai thru pass can only apply one of them, if you took wrong line you will spend quite fee. Bus service ends around 16:00, japanese language only. One cable line service end at 17:30 which station located in temple area (fee required). Temple closed at 16:30. Honestly, it was confusing and stressful while arriving late. Only visit when you have lots of time.
Gwyan Rhabyt | Apr 8, 2018
Wonderful round trip up the Yase side of Hieizan and down the Biwa side
Daniel Judd | Mar 15, 2018
Great escape from the city.
Sam S | May 16, 2018
Was there in early Nov... some rain before I got there... really pleasant and enjoyable walk in the mist of the typical Japanese cultural temple... wonderful experience...
Aryandev Baudha | May 27, 2018
Lovely Place. The place around the temple is so clean. The temple is located on the mountain that make the temple so Beautiful..
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