Enryaku-ji Temple has a long history and is known as one of the most important temples in all of Japan. The founder of the Tendai buddhist sect, Saicho, established the temple in 788. The temple was believed to protect early Kyoto from evil.
Several of the monks that completed the rigorous training here went on to start other important Buddhist sects in Japan. Some went into the government. Enryakuji was a place of powerful in history of early Kyoto.
The temple sits on Hiei Mountain (Hieizan) and was named Hieizanji when it was first established. It is surrounded by large cedar trees, beautiful gardens, and peaceful hiking trails.
In its prime, it the complex had 3,000 buildings and several thousand devotees, including an army of monk warriors (sohei). Most of the temple buildings were destroyed when the temple was attacked in 1571 by Oda Nobunaga. Most of the current buildings were rebuilt in the Edo period.
Three Main Temple Areas
The East Pagoda (To-do) area is the main area of the temple that houses the Kompon Chudo building. An oil lamp here, the Hoto, has been burning non-stop for the last 1,200 years.
The West Pagoda (Sai-to) area is nearby and reached by a gentle hiking trail through the trees. A Shaka-Nyorai Buddha statue is kept here in the Shakado hall, but it is kept out of site.
The Yokawa area is situated a couple of kilometers to the north. Fewer people visit this temple because of the walk, though it is a pleasant hike through the forest to get there.
All three areas are connected by buses from late-March through early- December.
Hieizan Mountain Access
Visitors can get to Enryaku-ji Temple by cable car from both the Kyoto Prefecture side or the Shiga Prefecture side of Hieizan Mountain. Buses also go to the temple on a toll road that climbs the mountain.
Getting to Enryaku-ji Temple
From JR Kyoto Station (one hour) or Keihan Line Sanjo Station
Bus to Enryaku-ji (?)
Bus stop: Enryaku-ji Bus Terminal
10 minute walk from the bus stop
Train and Cable Car Route
From JR Kyoto Station
JR Kosei Line to Hiei-Sakamoto Station (Shiga Prefecture) (15 minutes)
320 yen one way
Then, bus (5 minutes), or walk (15 minutes), to the Sakamoto Cable Car (Open all year)
Take the Sakamoto Cable Car (11 minutes)
(840 yen one way, 1570 yen round trip )
Then walk to Todo area (10 minutes)
From Keihan Line Demachiyanagi Station
Eizan Main Line to Yase-Hieizan-Guchi (15 minutes)
260 yen one way
Then take the Eizan Cable Car or Eizan Ropeway (15 minutes) (Closed Dec. – March)
840 yen one way, 1640 yen round trip
Then, take a bus (5 minutes), or walk (30 minutes) to the top
From JR Kyoto Station or Keihan Line Sanjo Station
Direct bus to Hieizan Todo (approximately one hour)
4-6 buses/day (only 2 buses/day on weekends Dec. – Mar.)
750 yen (one way)
Shuttle Buses within the Temple Areas
Shuttle busses connect the three temple areas late-March through early- December. The buses run every hour, or every half-hour on the weekends.
Individual fares vary. A one-day shuttle bus pass is 800 yen.
March to November: 8:40 – 16:30
December: 9:00 – 16:00
January to February: 9:00 – 16:30
(Saito area and Yokawa area open a half-hour later and close a half-hour earlier)
Open all year
Entrance Fees: Adults 550 yen (all three main areas)
Treasure House 450 yen
Junior and High School Students 350 yen
4220 Sakamoto Honmachi, Otsu-shi, Shiga