A mountainside temple with a splash of mystery and stunning autumn leaves.
Enryaku-ji Temple is a massive, attraction-filled complex of temples resting on the mountainside of Hieizan, overlooking Kyoto. Deservingly in the list of the UNESCO world heritage sites Enryaku-ji is embedded in Japanese culture and history.
Along the many paths, which ramify from its central area, you will find gorgeous shrines, prayer-rooms, gardens, and a kanji exhibit. You can have your fortune read by the local monks, and spend the day among a seemingly endless roster of beautiful architectural feats, and natural attractions.
Although open all year round, and always worth visiting, Enryaku-ji offers a breathtaking experience between October and November, when leaves of the traditional tree Momiji turn a bright red.
What’s more is that those of you with a more adventurous spirit are in for a treat. The current Enryaku-ji is a replica that was rebuilt between the 16th and 17th centuries, after the original structures were leveled by Nobunaga Oda during his fight against the Enryaku-ji warrior monks.
Only one building survived and is still standing to this day. Relatively unknown to the public and extremely hard to find, the Ruri-do, while lacking the luster of the rest of the complex’s buildings, makes up for it with its historical importance (it was built roughly 1300 years ago), and aura of mystery that permeates it. In order to find this gem, you will have to walk on an unmarked beaten path, through a forest of huge trees, with nothing else around. Absolutely worth it.
Map to Ruri-do
Once at Enryaku-ji, you’ll have to walk or drive to the unmarked path shown on this map. Once there, you’ll have to walk roughly 15-20 minutes down the path to reach the structure.