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Kansai | Kyoto | Mt. Hieizan

Enryakuji Temple

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Enryakuji Temple

Enryakuji was founded in 788 by Saicho, the monk who introduced Tendai Buddhism from China into Japan. At its peak, Enryakuji had as many as 3000 sub-temples and a powerful army of warrior monks who often engaged in power struggles with other monasteries and political leaders. On his way to remove all potential rivals and unite the country, Oda Nobunaga attacked and destroyed most of Enryakuji's buildings and killed most of its inhabitants in 1571. Therefore, most of today's temple buildings date back to the early Edo Period, when Enryakuji was rebuilt. Enryakuji's attractions are concentrated in three areas: Todo (east area), Saito (west area) and Yokawa.

The main area is the Todo area, where the monastery was originally founded and where most of the main buildings are located, including the Main Hall (Kompon Chudo) and the Amida Hall, which was added to the complex in 1937. A pleasant walking trail through the forest connects the Todo with the Saito area, whose main building is the Shaka Hall, the oldest building on the mountain. Not far away stands the Ninai Hall, two halls connected to each other by a central corridor. A monk named Benkei, known for his legendary strength, is said to once have carried the hall on his shoulders. The Yokawa area is located several kilometers north of the other two areas and is visited by fewer people. Its main building, the Yokawa Central Hall, is partially built on a slope using pillars.