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Enryaku-ji Hieizan : the Historic and Powerful
One temple that has played a crucial role in the history of Buddhism in Japan is Enryaku-ji Temple. Located on the top of Mt. Hiei on the border of Kyoto and Shiga prefecture, Enryaku-ji is the head temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism. The temple was built by Saicho, the founder of the Tendai sect and of the most important influential monks in Japanese history. Throughout its history, Enryaku-ji was a powerful temple. It frequently held sway over the courts of Kyoto, was very wealthy. During the Kamkura Period, many of the monks who studied there went on to found their own sects of Buddhism, and some even became politician. The temple even had it own army! Their army was so strong that it fought against the infamous warlord, Oda Nobunaga.
You should definitely visit it when you are in Japan! So, Here is some basic information you might find useful when you are planning to go to Enryaku-ji.
The complex is divided into three sections: Tōtō, Saitō and Yokawa. The Tōtō (eastern pagoda section) contains the Kompon Chū-dō (Primary Central Hall), which is the most important building in the complex. The flames on the three dharma lamps in front of the altar have been kept lit for more than 1200 years. The Daikō-dō (Great Lecture Hall) displays life-sized wooden statues of the founders of various Buddhist schools. This part of the temple is heavily geared to group access, with large expanses of asphalt for parking.
The Saitō (western pagoda section) contains the Shaka-dō, which dates from 1595 and houses a rare Buddha sculpture of the Shaka Nyorai (Historical Buddha). The Saitō, with its stone paths winding through forests of tall trees, temples shrouded in mist and the sound of distant gongs, is the most atmospheric part of the temple. Hold on to your ticket from the Tōtō section, as you may need to show it here.
The Yokawa is of minimal interest and a 4km bus ride away from the Saitō area. The Chū-dō here was originally built in 848. It was destroyed by fire several times and has undergone repeated reconstruction (most recently in 1971). If you plan to visit this area as well as Tōtō and Saitō, allow a full day for in-depth exploration.
Arhitectură [ modificare | modificare sursă ]
Teritoria templului este împărțită în trei zone: Tōdō ( 東塔 , Tōdō ? „Pagoda de la răsărit”), Saitō ( 西塔 , Saitō ? „Pagoda de la apus”) și Yokawa ( 横川 , Yokawa ? ).
Tōdō [ modificare | modificare sursă ]
Konponchūdō [ modificare | modificare sursă ]
Konponchūdō ( 根本中堂 , Konponchūdō ? ) este construcția principală a întregului complex monastic. Ea reprezintă o reconstrucție mediavală a unei clădiri mai vechi, Yakushi-dō ( 薬師堂 , Yakushi-dō ? ) , intemeiate de Saicho în anul 788. Principalul obiect de venerare este statuia lui Buddha Bhaisajyaguru sau Buddha-Vindecătorul ( 薬師如来 , Yakushi Nyorai ? ) , care a fost sculptată de însuși Saicho și care se păstrează aici. Lanternă din fața lui Buddha, conform călugărilor, a fost aprinsă de Saicho și arde în continuu timp de 1200 de ani (după incendiu și reconstrucția ulterioară lanterna a fost aprinsă din nou cu focul adus din templul Risshaku-ji din Yamagata). Denumirea de Chūdō ( 中堂 , Chūdō ? Sala mijlocie) provide de la poziția relativă a Yakushi-dō față de celelalte două clădiri întemeiate de Saicho: Monju-dō ( 文殊堂 , Sala lui Buddha Manjusri ? ) și Kyōzō ( 経蔵 , Sala cu scripturi/sutre ? ) . Cu timpul cele trei clădiri au fost reconstruite, lărgite și în fine unite într-una singură.
În anul 1443 membrii clanului Hino, urmărind reinstaurarea dinastiei de Sud, au pătruns în interiorul Palatului Imperial de la Kyoto (pe atunci reședința împăratului Go-Hanazono (en/ja) din dinastia de Nord) și au furat una dintre cele Trei Regalii Imperiale. O parte dintre rebeli s-au retras pe muntele Hiei și s-au ascuns în Konponchudo, unde au fost omorâți.
Clădirea originală a Konponchudo a fost distrusă în 1571 de armata lui Oda Nobunaga, iar cea actuală reprezintă o reconstrucție, efectuată între anii 1634 și 1641 sub conducerea călugărului Tenkai, la ordinul shogunul Iemitsu Tokugawa. Întreaga construcție a fost executată din lemn de zelkova serrata ( 欅 , keyaki ? ) , arbore endemic din Japonia, Coreea și Taiwan. Împreună cu curtea interioară și galeria din partea de sud formează o structură tipică în stil arhitectural Shinden-zukuri.
Interiorul Konponchudo este împărțit în trei părți. Partea interioară (cea mai sacră parte, în care se află statuia lui Buddha) este situată cu circa 3 m mai jos decât celelalte zone și este pavată cu piatră. Datorită amplasării sali și faptului că anume aici are loc închinarea călugărilor, ea este numită „Vale a învățăturii”. Datorită acestei diferențe de înălțime, statuia lui Buddha (aflată în partea interioară) se află la aceeași nivel cu capurile credincioșilor (aflați în partea de mijloc). Această structură neobișnuită a devenit o particularitate a templelor școlii Tendai. Podul în partea mijlocie a Konponchudo este acoperit cu flori desenate în culori naturale. Tot în această parte a sălii este expus textul Den-Kyō ( 伝教 , Den-Kyō ? ), scris de mână de către împăratul Shōwa. La 31 martie 1953 Konponchudo a fost declarat Tezaur Național ⎗] ⎘] .
Although a kind of ceremony was being done in the precinct, it was silent. The attendants seemed to congregate at a building somewhere else. Stopping just in front of the main hall called Konpon-Chudo, I watched the architecture. Some worshippers came and prayed there.
This Buddhist temple was built by the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1625 to pair up with Enryaku-Ji, which was built to protect the ancient capital, Kyoto. It is said the northeastward was thought as the entrance for the evil things in Onmyōdō. So Enryaku-Ji was built on the northeastward of the palace where the emperor lived not to enter the evil things. In a similar way, Kanei-Ji was built on the northeastward of the Edo Castle where the shogun lived.
Once this temple exercised considerable authority. Yet the most part of its precinct was forfeited by the new government when the revolution has occurred. This time around, Kanei-Ji is a compact Buddhist temple. And the calm atmosphere wafted in the precinct.
The History of Enryaku-ji TempleMonju-ro Gate: The main gate of Enryaku-ji. A statue Monju Bosatsu is enshrined on the second floor, but the stairs are really steep!
Unfortunately, a temporary protective structure completely covers the building now.
Renovations of the Kopnpon-chudo began in 2016 and will be completed in 2026. During this time, you cannot see the outside Konpon-chudo though you still can go inside!
You can get a really good look a the roof from here.
After seeing Konpon-chudo, you should walk around the temple complex. There are so many things to see here, so take your time to explore!
Daiko-do: Inside of the building is the pictures and statue of high-rank monks. Enshrines Daikokuten. Here Daikokuten here is very unique is a mixture of three gods: Pisamonten, Daikokuten, and Benzaiten.
If you want to walk to Saito, you can find the path between the Amida-do and the To-do Pagoda.
To-do Pagoda (left) and Amida-do (right). Saicho built 6 pagodas to protect the country, with the one at Toto as the main one.
Ken's Storage: Pictures of Japanese Castles
Sakamoto castle was built by Mitsuhide Akechi (1528-1582), a commander of central ruler Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582) in 1573. The origin of Mitsuhide is unknown, but it is said that Mitsuhide was a person of Akechi clan, a local lord stem from Toki clan and resided at Akechi castle the middle part of Mino province (Gifu prefecture).
As Akechi clan was ruined by Saito clan which was the lord of Mino province in 1556, Mitsuhide wandered then was hired by Yoshiaki Ashikaga (1537-1597), who was the younger brother of assassinated former Shogun Yoshiteru Ashikaga (1536-1565).
Mitsuhide coordinated Yoshiaki to Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), the warlord of Owari province (western half of Aichi prefecture) and captured Mino province in 1567. Next year Nobunaga marched to Kyoto city and placed Yoshiaki to the 15th Shogun of Muromachi Shogunate, then Mitsuhide became the retainer of both of Nobunaga and Yoshiaki.
Anti Nobunaga encirclement
History of Hieizan Enryakuji temple
Hieizan Enryakuji Temple was a traditional temple established by Priest Saicho (767-822) at the top of Hieizan mountain, and regarded one of two highest temples of Japanese Buddhism along with Koyasan Kongobuji temple.
Hieizan mountain was at the south edge of Hira mountain runs southward along with the western coast of Lake Biwako, and separates Kyoto basin and Lake Biwako area. Even just at the next of capital Kyoto city, the mountain surrounded by sheer cliffs and deep forests were ideal place for the religious training.
Under the lecture of Saicho and succeeding monks, Hieizan Enryakuji temples produced many famous monks later opened their own denomination, such as Honen (1133-1212) of Jodoshu, Shinran (1173-1263) of Jodoshinshu, Dogen (1200-1253) of Sotoshu. Because of this Enryakuji temple is called as the mother place of Japanese Buddhism.
Political affairs of Enryakuji temple
On the other hand, based on the believe of Imperial Household, closeness to the capital and economic power from manors or Sakamoto town, Enryakuji temple hired thounsands of monk soldiers and became political power then conflicted with authority or other denomination.
Because of religious fame of Enryakuji temple, many authorities had to accept the existence of Enryakuji Temple. But strong governors who feared the power of the temple such as Yoshinori Ashikaga (1394-1441) the sixth Shogun of Muromachi Shogunate, or Masamoto Hosokawa (1466-1507), the magistrate of Muromachi Shogunate, already burned Enryakuji temple.
But in the former half of 16th century, the temple gained their power again based on the developing economy, and their role as counter party to Ikko Ikki army, the raising under Jodoshinshu. Enryakuji Temple became half-independent power and exercised their power on the conflict between Miyoshi clan and other lords.
Support of Asakura and Azai army
In 1568, Nobunaga Oda marched to Kyoto city and virtually established his own government. At first Enryakuji Temple kept neutral, but Nobunaga seek centralized power did not allow half-independent status of Enryakuji Temple and send orders.
At the conflict between Nobunaga and anti-Nobunaga alliance, Enryakuji Temple declined the request of neutral from Nobunaga then accepted Asakura and Azai army to the mountain. Because of the closeness to Kyoto city, this was severe pressure to Nobunaga who could not move his army away from the area, then Nobunaga finally had to accept unwilling settlement with Asakura and Azai army in 1570.
Nobunaga barely escaped crisis started his revenge by individual attack to anti Nobunaga alliance. Enryakuji Temple which was close to capital Kyoto city and had less soldiers compared with warlord became the first target of his revenge. Nobunaga ordered Mitsuhide who had knowledge and network at Kyoto area to gather surrounding local lords and merchants.
Burning down of Enryakuji temple
Build of Sakamoto castle
In 1573, once situation stabilized, Mitsuhide who was appointed as the lord of Sakamoto town newly built Sakamoto castle at lakeside as his main base. Former base Usayama castle was a strong castle but inconvenient at the top of the mountain, thus Mitsuhide built his castle at lake side to grasp the town and port directly.
Sakamoto castle had third layer half concentric structure having Lake Biwako at backside. The central area at inner place might be about 100 meter long square, secondary area at middle layer was about 200 meter long square, and third area at outer later might be 400 meter long and 300 meter wide.
According to the limited record of the castle, the castle had water moat directly connected to Lake Biwako, and had main tower with attached small tower. To keep the shape of the area before the wave of the lake, each line of the area might be fully covered by low height stone wall. According the record of Luis Frois (1532-1597), a missionary of Catholic lived in Japan, Sakamoto castle was a brilliant castle next to Azuchi castle, the castle of Nobunaga.
Toward Tanba province
From 1572 to 1575, Nobunaga once suffered from the conflict with Shingen Takeda (1521-1573), the warlord of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture), but could ruin Azai and Asakura clan then beat Katsuyori Takeda (1546-1582), the successor of Shingen, at the battle of Nagashino in 1575. Finally Nobunaga expelled Yoshiaki Ashikaga and formerly established his own authority.
Nobunaga seek further expansion appointed his three important general Katsuie Shibata (1521-1583), Hideyoshi Hashiba (1537-1598, later Hideyoshi Toyotomi) and Mitsuhide Akechi as the regional commander of Hokuriku region, Chugoku region and Tanba province (western part of Kyoto prefecture or eastern part of Hyogo prefecture).
Tanba province was just at the next of Kyoto city, but it is a mountainous area separated into small basins and difficult to grasp then former authorities such as Hosokawa clan or Miyoshi clan also suffered to manage the province. Mitsuhide prepared for his next front but it was a tough place.
End of Akechi clan at Sakamoto castle
Afterward of castle
15 minutes walk from JR West Kosai-sen line Hieizan-Sakamoto station. 30 minutes drive from Meishin Expressway Otsu interchange.
Yamadera and Matsuo Basho
Matsuo Basho altered his planned itinerary to ride to Yamadera and wrote a famous haiku on the piercing sound of cicadas drilling into the peaceful stillness of the area.
Shizukesa-ya / iwa ni shimiiru / semi no koe.
Across the river, the Basho Memorial Museum, or Yamadera Bashō Kinenkan (entrance: 400 yen), commemorates Basho’s work and his visit to Yamadera. Aside from information related to Basho, there are changing exhibits on literary themes, haiku contests (feel welcome to sign up for an English haiku contest held in July) and tea ceremonies. An interesting feature of the tea ceremony room is the suikinkutsu, a water echo cistern. Unfortunately this is not used during the winter months.
Also, on the other side of the valley, is the delightful Goto Museum of Art, unexpectedly full of 17th-19th century European paintings and Tiffany glass objects. (Entrance: 800 yen)
1. Mount Misen, Hiroshima Prefecture (535m)
Photo: Ashley Owen
Mt. Misen is located on the picturesque island of Miyajima , just south of Hiroshima city. At slightly over 500 meters in elevation, it’s a great hike for beginners. There are three routes up: the Momijidani, the Daisho-in and the Omoto trails. The Daisho-in route is generally considered to have the best views, while the Momijidani one is the shortest but steepest of the three.
Whichever you choose, it should take you approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours to reach the summit — leaving you plenty of time to explore Miyajima’s other attractions during your visit. From the top, you get spectacular views out over the Seto Inland Sea and back to Hiroshima . As well as the panoramic backdrop, there are also several Buddhist temple structures you can visit before making your way back to the town. Misen is particularly beautiful to hike in the autumn, when you can enjoy the changing colors of the leaves as you climb.
Enryaku-ji Lives Up to Its Legend
It takes a bit of effort to get there by public transport, but it is more than worth the work. The views during the cable car ride alone are amazing and the 25 minute hike down to the temple sets the tone for the visit. It is often that a gong is heard in the distance, and it gets louder as one approaches the temple. If there ever was a strong power spot, this one has been experienced by many. It is a place of spiritual power and having been there three times, I feel that I want to return again in the future. It is clear why this place is a sacred one in Japan.
Please note: the cable car you need to ride to access this temple closes pretty early so it's best to visit this site in the morning so you're not rushed!! I made that mistake the first time I went and didn't have time to visit all the buildings on the main grounds.
If you want sweeping views of Lake Biwa or to make a HUGE dent in your shuin-cho (you can collect seven here!!) this collection of temples is a great spot to visit! It's not accessible for people in wheelchairs or who have issues walking on inclines (at least without major effort). It's all up and down, which is to be expected since you're on a mountain!!
You can get food and drinks up here but selection is limited. The bathrooms are gross. My tip is to eat before you go (or plan to go after) and hydrate!
It's very beautiful here. I've been twice so I'd definitely recommend!
Located in the heart of nature, the place takes you to an altogether different world. One has to walk a bit but its worth it. Particularly impressed with the lanterns which are burning since so many centuries.
We took a Keihan bus from JR Kyoto station for about 40 minutes and enjoyed wonderful views of Lake Biwa and Otsu city and then arrived at Enryaku-ji Bus Center. From the bus stop, we easily reached the center temple called "Konponchudo." This Temple Complex is located almost at the top of the mountain called Hiei, and so it is surrounded by tall cedar trees, being quiet and serene. There are two big sects of Buddhism in Japan. One was born in Koyasan in Wakayama and the other was born in Hieizan. I learned that this one was later divided into many different sects and each founder trained himself in this deep and steep mountain. Enryaku-ji has three main areas, Todo including Konponchudo, Saido and Yokawa. Shuttle buses run between them, so you should buy an unlimited bus ticket for 800 yen at Enryakuji Bus Center. Todo area is crowded in season because there are souvenir shops, a soba restaurant and the large modern building called Enryakuji Kaikan where they serve Shojin Ryori, or vegetarian diet on the second floor and coffee and tea on the ground floor. Saito and Yokawa, however, are more reomote, or secluded areas which would make you refreshed and calm. I think you shouldn't miss them. We luckily encountered wild monkeys and their babies at Saito bus stop too. All of the buildings were worth seeing. They were beautiful and impressive. On the way back to Kyoto, we tried Sakamoto Cable at Enryakuji Station, 7- minute-walk from the bus stop called Todo. That cable was fantastic. We enjoyed the ride and the scenic view of lake Biwa plus the steep valley.