Photo By: Lucio Maurizi
Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Otsu
Population
1,342,811

Enryaku-ji Temple

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.

Enryaku-ji Temple

Photo by: Lucio Maurizi Momiji leaves surround the temple.

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.

Autumnal bliss

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.

Enryaku-ji Temple

Photo by: Lucio Maurizi Best time to visit is in autumn.

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.

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Things To Know

Hours

8:30 a.m. – 16:30 p.m. (March to November) 9 a.m. – 16 p.m. (December) 9 a.m.- 16:30 p.m. (January and February)

Fees

Entry fee: The temple is divided into 3 main areas. Access to all 3 is ¥700.

How To Get There

Address

4220 Sakamotohonmachi, Ōtsu-shi, Shiga-ken 520-0116, Japan

By train

Take the JR Kosei Line from Kyoto Station to Hieizan-Sakamoto Station (15 minutes). From there, you can get to the cable-car in 15 minutes by foot, or 5 minutes by bus.


By Cable Car and Ropeway

Note: Not available in winter.

Take the Eizan Main Line from Demachi-yanagi Station, in Kyoto to Yase-Hieizan-guchi Station (15 minutes). From there, take the Eizan Cable-car and Eizan Ropeway to the summit of Hieizan (15-20 minutes). From the summit, it’s a 5-minute bus ride or a 30-minute walk. This cable-car and the ropeway do not operate from December to March.

By bus

Note: Not available in winter.

You can ride a bus from Kyoto Station or Sanjo Station (Keihan Subway Line). The ride will take roughly 1 hour and it will cost 700-800 yen. The buses will not be available between December and March.

By car

There are several routes depending on your location in the Kansai area. Address: Enryakuji, 4220 Sakamotohonmachi, Otsu, Shiga Prefecture 520-0116

Where To Stay

Hoshino Resort L'Hotel de Hiei
  • Sakyo-ku Hieizan Ipponsugi Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 606-0000
  • 8.2/10
  • 2.1 km
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Kyoruri
  • Karasaki 1-8-5 Otsu-Shi, Shiga 520-0106
  • 9.6/10
  • 3.8 km
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Masuiya Biwako Hieizan
  • Hieitsuji 1-14-7 Otsu-Shi, Shiga 520-0104
  • 9.8/10
  • 3.9 km
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Biwako House
  • Shimosakamoto 6−3−32 Otsu-Shi, Shiga 520-0105
  • 8.2/10
  • 3.9 km
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