Located around 20km to the northeast of central Kyoto, EnrYAku-ji is nestled within the forests of Mount Hieizan and is one of Japan’s most important temples. Headquarters of the Tendai sect of Buddhism, Enryaku-ji was founded in the 8th century by the legendary monk Saicho and at the height of its powers led as many as 3000 sub-temples and army of warrior monks. Founders of later sects including – the Pure Land, Zen and Nichiren sects – also studied at Enryaku-ji, imbuing the temple and its role in Japanese history with huge importance.
One of the most powerful institutions during the Heian Period, the monks of Enryaku-ji caused great problems for the emperors and court regularly threatening or invoking insurrection against them. Destroyed the powerful warlord Oda Nobunaga in the 16th century, the complex and its many buildings were reconstructed during the Edo Period. Enryaku-ji is divided into the three areas with the eastern ‘Todo’ area being the focal point of the temple complex. Most of the temple’s main building are located in the Todo area with the ‘Saito’ and ‘Yokawa’ areas also boasting important structures.
Given its setting on Mount Hieizan, the temple is accessible via the Eizan Cable Car / Ropeway or the Sakamoto Cable Car. The Eizan Cable Car / Ropeway operates from the western side of the mountain and takes 15 to 20 minutes / JPY900 one-way or JPY1800 for a roundtrip. It’s important to note however that the Eizan Cable Car / Ropeway does not operate from early-December to mid-March. Alternatively, the Sakamoto Cable Car operates from the eastern side of the mountain and can be used all-year-round. From the base station, the journey up takes 11 minutes and costs JPY870 one-way or JPY1660 for a round-trip.
Mar. to Nov.: 08:30-16:30 / Dec.: 09:00-16:00 / Jan. to Feb.: 09:00-16:30
JPY1000 / JPY500 for entry to the Treasure House
As noted on the page, Enryaku-ji can be accessed via both the Eizan Cable Car / Ropeway or Sakamoto Cable Car. When coming from central Kyoto, it will be easiest to make the journey using the Sakamoto Cable Car. To get there from Kyoto Station, take the JR Kosei Line to Hieizen-Sakamoto Station – 15 minutes / JPY330 – from where it’s a 5 minute bus ride or 15 minute walk to the cable car. The cable car operates from 08:00 to 17:30