The head temple of the Tendai sect! The mother mountain of Japanese Buddhism, Hieizan Enryaku-ji
Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple is on the 848 meter tall Mt. Hiei, and it’s the head temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism. Saicho, a Buddhist monk, started a temple on this mountain in 788, so this temple boasts over 1200 years of history. This place is respected as the “mother mountain of Japanese Buddhism” where most of the founders of Japanese Buddhist sects have studied and practiced Buddhism before starting their own schools of it. It was also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
The area of the temple is vast at over 1,500 hectares. The temple is divided into three areas, To-do, Sai-to, and Yokawa, and you can traverse these areas by taking a shuttle bus (one-day ticket 1,000 yen with entrance to the temple, children 500 yen, Suica, Pasmo, and Icoca also accepted). Each of these areas has many things worth seeing, so if you have time, I recommend visiting them all.
Saicho, the founder of Enryaku-ji, has left us a saying, “Brighten the world at your corner.” This saying means that each one of should do his or her best in their position and that each one of us should strive to be a nation’s treasure. You can see these words written in Japanese at many places in the temple, and they make you feel like you should do your best in the position you’re right now. If you visit Enryaku-ji, I hope that you will take note of Saicho’s words.
Enryaku-ji Temple is in the mountains surrounded by quiet nature, and it’s a valuable place for learning more about Buddhism, so I hope you will all visit it.