Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple

Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple, Otsu

Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple
Historic Walking Areas • Religious Sites
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9:30 AM - 3:30 PM
9:30 AM - 3:30 PM
9:30 AM - 3:30 PM
9:30 AM - 3:30 PM
9:30 AM - 3:30 PM
9:30 AM - 3:30 PM
9:30 AM - 3:30 PM
9:30 AM - 3:30 PM
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The area
Neighborhood: Northern Kyoto
Hot springs and historic temples characterize the leafy landscapes of Northern Kyoto. Acres of tranquil residential streets are interrupted by some of Kyoto's most gorgeous architectural gems, including the majestic Golden Pavilion of Kinkakuji, the serene artistry of the Ryoanji Temple rock gardens, and the bold red paint across the structures of Enryakuji Temple. Once a religious core of the city, the district now boasts some of its most remote and peaceful hot springs, as well as a few of its best family-run mom-and-pop restaurants. A blend of extremely local at its outskirts, and highly peopled at its tourist centers, Northern Kyoto nonetheless retains a halcyon air in harmony with nature.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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599 reviews
Very good

Canada26 contributions
Jan 2020
This is the birthplace of Zen Buddhism. The Enryaku hotel was, traditional Japanese style, very clean and comfortable- staff was very pleasant and helpful. The food breakfast and dinner was included and extraordinary! Beautiful views of the lake and distant mountains, some days we could see My Fuji in the distance. The Japanese baths were clean and hot. 7am we walked to the main temple to participate in the morning ceremonies. We hiked the mountain and visited the ancient temples, some original and hundreds of years old- learning the story of Zen Buddhism and how it came to be on this sacred mountain.Lots of local pilgrims making offerings and praying- so peaceful
Written February 14, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Emily L
Oxford, MI174 contributions
Sep 2015 • Couples
Please note: the cable car you need to ride to access this temple closes pretty early so it's best to visit this site in the morning so you're not rushed!! I made that mistake the first time I went and didn't have time to visit all the buildings on the main grounds.

If you want sweeping views of Lake Biwa or to make a HUGE dent in your shuin-cho (you can collect seven here!!) this collection of temples is a great spot to visit! It's not accessible for people in wheelchairs or who have issues walking on inclines (at least without major effort). It's all up and down, which is to be expected since you're on a mountain!!

You can get food and drinks up here but selection is limited. The bathrooms are gross. My tip is to eat before you go (or plan to go after) and hydrate!

It's very beautiful here. I've been twice so I'd definitely recommend!
Written September 29, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Cheung Kwok Wah
Hong Kong, China53 contributions
Nov 2016 • Couples
Technically, this temple is not situated in Kyoto. From Kyoto train station, you need to travel about 45 minutes in bus to go to this temple.

The Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple was built about 1200 years ago, when some monks were asked by the Emperor who was living in Kyoto to build a temple around the Capital of Kyoto at that time. They decided to build a temple near the mountain top near Kyoto. To learn more about Buddhism, some monks were sent to China to learn about Buddhism. Some candles were lit about 1200 years ago and they lit and lit with the light on continuously ever since.

The temple is less commercialized than other temples in Kyoto as you can understand Kyoto is attracting more and more tourists. And yet you can feel the religiousness when visiting the temple.

Vegetarian lunch is provided there and hence there is no problem staying there for one whole day.
Written December 18, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Erkki N
Finland872 contributions
Oct 2019
I wanted to see this temple because of its history as a residence of warrior monks before the Edo period. Their reign was ended by Oda Nobunaga and the temples were all destroyed so all the buildings one can see today have been built after that. The temple is a bit challenging to reach, one has to take the train to the foot of Mt. Hiei, then ascend with two funiculars and, finally, trek or take a bus to reach the temple area. I chose to walk there along somewhat steep and winding paths, which was an experience itself, and ended up (or down, actually) to the back side of the temple.

I must admit, the temple area itself was a bit disappointing, perhaps the standard set by prestigious temples of Kyoto city is a bit unfair here. The buildings were not strikingly beautiful and there was no garden to speak about, but the graveyard I entered at the backside of the temple was a peaceful place under the giant cedars, something the city area temples do not have. I have had this temple on my to-do-list for quite a long time and am happy to have seen it, but there are many I would recommend a Kyoto tourist to visit before choosing this one.
Written August 8, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France91 contributions
Jul 2021
Maybe I was expecting too much from this mountain temple, but I found it underwhelming. There's not much to see, and what there is is sprawled out in a relatively large are, which is not particularly interesting. There were zero explanations in English. I think it can be a good place for a spiritual retreat (there's a hotel on-site), rather than tourism.
Unlike many other temple sites, I won't feel the need to visit it again.
But the way up from Yase-Hieizanguchi and the way down towards Sakamoto were nice, as well as the forest all around it.
Written July 17, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Tokyo329 contributions
May 2016 • Couples
The temple locates in near-by Shiga Prefecture and takes good one hour trip from central Kyoto. The temple is very huge and occupies three locations in a big mountain. They are connected by shuttle but it runs only every 30 minutes. Also it stops at 4 pm ! This means you need to leave Kyoto early. It is definitely worth going. There are three routes to go and the easiest one is bus which leaves Kyoto station. Good luck.
Written May 4, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Makati, Philippines4,210 contributions
Mar 2015 • Solo
Coming from Kyoto station, it just took around 15 mins. to get to Hieizansakamoto station. I came a bit late and there seemed to be no buses present so I asked an English guy who drove up the station in a Jaguar. It turns out he lives in the area and offered me a lift to the cable car station. Once I got to the top, I was completely in awe at the serenity and beauty of the complex. The walk from the cable car station to the main complex was very scenic as well as you could see view Lake Biwa and Otsu city below past the towering cedar trees. There were only a handful of tourists then which added to the serenity of the place. It was an unexpected bonus that the mountain was covered in a thin later of snow halfway up and it was also snowing lightly. Since it was almost spring, I really didn't expect to still see snow. Enryakuji itself is quite imposing and beautiful. Sadly I had only an hour to spare before I can catch the last cable car down the mountain. It's one site that worth a return visit though. Again there were no buses when I reached the lower station so decided to walk the main avenue back to the JR station. It was an easy pleasant walk passing through some nice houses and the 300 yr. old noodle house. It may be more difficult walking the other way as it's uphill. I'll be back.
Written March 16, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Jean-Luc Monfrais
Montreal, Canada33 contributions
Jan 2019
Western Buddhist but long-time practitioner, I could not go to Kyoto without making a small retreat of three days in this high place of the origins of Japanese Buddhism. Very famous place, and strongly revered by all the Japanese met during my trip. Despite the cold and the snow, the stay on site was most enjoyable and enriching personally. I had the chance to meditate for several days under the guidance of an English speaking Japanese monk, extremely kind despite his high level of practice. I had all the necessary explanations and lessons requested.
Note also the excellence of the hotel attached to the temple. Even for pure tourists, this is a very high level of service for this type of situation!
Written April 13, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Zio Billy
Lausanne, Switzerland138 contributions
Apr 2017 • Solo
I visited the temples after I hiked up to Mt. Hiei. The whole thing is divided in 3 locations, two of them relatively near to each other. The temples themselves weren't so impressive. On the other hand, the location and the view from the temples is breathtaking!
Written April 23, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Charlotte, NC4 contributions
Dec 2016 • Couples
Situated on a mountain a short drive from Kyoto, Enryaku-ji is actually a complex of several temples situated at various point on a road that goes up Hieizan mountain. The drive up the mountain is beautiful and there are several places to stop and view the scenery on the way up. Be warned that this is a toll road and could cost you upwards of 3,500 yen payable upon leaving the mountain. If you choose to do so, the temple is also accessible by a cable car line which can be reached by transfer from the JR Kosei line originating at Kyoto station.

The temple itself has a long history, once being the head site of one of the most powerful buddhist sects in Japan. The complex has the distinction of being destroyed by Oda Nobunaga (the unifier of Japan) in order to supress the rather considerable power of the warrior monks of the temple and its roughly 3000 subtemples. Only one building from the original temple complex survives as Nobunaga's forces burned down the rest. However, the majority of the buildings were rebuilt in the Edo period and are thus several hundred years old.

There are various large active temple buildings in each area. We were impressed by an extremely large bell which could be rung after a donation of 50yen. The atmosphere was qyite surreal when inside a nearby temple building due to the sound of the bell continually being rung by other visitors.

My favorite area was a small two story structure built during the Edo era. In the modern era, it has been dedicated to world peace. Due to being somewhat away from the larger buildings, it was fairly deserted. In order to enter the building, you need to take off your shoes and ascend a narrow steep staircase to the second floor. You will enter into a small shrine chamber that feels stopped in time. Aside from the fence separating the shrine from the rest of the room, everything is old and wooden. The relics inside the shrine also look to be many hundred years old. It was quite peaceful just to stand in the center of the small room and take in the smell of the incense and experience the ambient feel of the room. There are several places with this kind of feel throughout the temple complex.

While driving to the temple can be expensive and getting in between the temple complexes can be a pain, we found Enryaku-ji to be one of the more impressie and storied temples we have visited in Japan. The views from the mountain are nice and certain areas produce a genuinely serine atnosphere. Much of the temple does feel touristic, but all important Buddhist temples are running this way these days (collection boxes and souvenirs are everywhere). We definitely recommend visiting the temple given time.
Written January 1, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple

Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple is open:
  • Sun - Sat 9:30 AM - 3:30 PM

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