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Enryakuji Temple 延暦寺

Enryaku-ji Temple Enryaku-ji Temple
Enryaku-ji Temple Enryaku-ji Temple

Home of Tendai Buddhism and marathon monks

Enryakuji Temple's monks seek enlightenment through extreme exercise.

How to Get There

From Kyoto, take the JR Kosei line to Hieizan Sakamoto station. Take a short walk or bus through Sakamoto town to the foot of Mt. Hiei, then take the "Sakamoto Cable" cable car or hike to the top.

Quick Facts

The temple was destroyed by feudal lord Oda Nobunaga in 1571 and later rebuilt

It is the headquarters of the Tendai sect of Buddhism

It's been a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site since 1994

A temple central to Japan's Buddhist history

Enryakuji Temple was founded in 788 as the home of Tendai Buddhism in Japan. Some of the monks who have studied at Enryakuji Temple went on to found other major sects of Japanese Buddhism, including Pure Land, Zen, and Nichiren.

As the temple became powerful (and its monks fearsome), it was seen as a political threat to the feudal lords. Like many other temples in the area, it was destroyed in 1571 by Oda Nobunaga, a powerful feudal lord of the region. Most of the buildings in Enryakuji's expansive complex are reconstructions from the early Edo period (1603-1867).

Marathon monks

The monks of Enryakuji Temple no longer make war, but they are still just as fearsome. These "marathon monks," called gyoja, use grueling physical exertion as a means to approach enlightenment. One ritual of Enryakuji monks, sennichi kaiho gyo, refers to a thousand days of running up to 84 kilometers per day in straw sandals, finishing it off with a seven-day fast without sleeping. Only 46 men have completed it since 1885.

Near Enryakuji Temple

Enryaku-ji Temple History
Enryakuji Temple Otsu-shi, Shiga-ken
shiga-in-teien garden Nature
Mt. Hiei Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
Sakamoto cable car Attraction
Sakamoto Cable Car Otsu-shi, Shiga-ken
Sanno Matsuri Festivals & Events
Hiyoshi Taisha Sanno Festival Otsu-shi, Shiga-ken
Shiga-in-teien Garden Attraction
Shigain Monzeki Garden Otsu-shi, Shiga-ken
Sanzen-in Temple History
Sanzenin Temple Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu

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