Enryaku-ji Temple (延暦寺)

A Japanese Temple

Enryaku-ji Temple is in Sakamotohonmachi, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture, and encompasses Mt. Hiei - at a height of 848m in its temple precincts. It is more often called Mt. Hiei or Eizan, rather than Enryaku-ji Temple. Because it was to the north of Heiankyo (Kyoto), it was also called Hokurei (north mountain). It is the central institution of the Japanese Tendai Sect, founded by the monk Saicho (767-822) in the early Heian period. Its chief priest is called Tendai Zazu, and he supervises its branch temples.


After Saicho founded it, it was the center of Heian Buddhism along with Kongobu-ji Temple on Mt. Koya. It became a general university of Buddhism, spreading the teachings of Tendai Hokke, as well as esoteric Buddhism, Zen (meditation), and Nenbutsu, and in the Heian period gained the support of the Imperial Household and nobles, thereby becoming quite powerful. The incantations of esoteric Buddhism especially garnered the support of the Heian nobility; and Enryaku-ji Temple's esoteric Buddhism was called Taimitsu, to distinguish it from the teachings of the Shingon sect's To-ji temple, called Tomitsu.

"Enryaku-ji Temple" is the collective name for the temple buildings of the Santo-Jurokudani, including Todo, Saito and Yokawa, spread out between the top of Mt. Hiei and its eastern foot. It began in 788 (Enryaku 7) when Saicho built a thatched hut that he called Ichijoshikan-in Temple. The use of the name of the era in which it was built (Enryaku) for the temple's name was approved after Saicho's death, in 824.

Enryaku-ji Temple has been called the mother of Japanese Buddhism, because it produced countless famous monks: Ennin, who laid the foundations of Japanese Tendai Buddhism; Enchin; Ryonin, the founder of the Yuzu Nenbutsu sect; Honen, the founder of the Jodo sect; Shinran, the founder of the Jodo Shin sect; Eisai, the founder of the Rinzai sect; Dogen, the founder of the Soto sect; Nichiren, the founder of the Nichiren sect; and many others, including founders of new sects and famous figures in the history of Japanese Buddhism spent their early years training at Mt. Hiei. Mt. Hiei also appears in numerous literary works.

Furthermore, such strenuous training practices as the "12 Year Mountain Training", and the "1000 Day Circumambulation" continue to this day; and it has even been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its status as a important, sacred site in Japanese Buddhism.


Early History
Mt. Hiei is mentioned in the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters), is thought to have been the focus of mountain worship from ancient times; and the landlord deity of Mt. Hiei, Oyamakui-no-kami, is enshrined at Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine at the eastern foot of the mountain.

Saicho's profane name was Hirono MITSUNOOBITO; and he was born in 766 (some accounts say 767) in the Shiga district of Omi province (present-day Shiga Prefecture, Otsu City). In 780 when he was 15 years old, he took Buddhist orders under the monk Gyohyo at Omi's provincial temple, and took the name Saicho. In 785 when he was 20, he received the commandments of Buddhism at Nara's Todai-ji Temple, thereby officially becoming a monk. The young Saicho had a few thoughts, and did not seek a stable position in one of Nara's big temples, only wanting to train and study scriptures close to home on Mt. Hiei. Of all the scriptures, Saicho thought the teachings of Hokekyo (the Lotus Sutra) was the greatest, and studied the "Three Great Works of Hokke" by China's Tiantai master Zhiyi (Hokkegengi, Hokkemongu, and Makashikan).

In 788 Saicho built a small temple on the site of the present-day Konponchudo Hall, which consisted of Yakushido Hall, Monjudo Hall, and Kyozo (scripture repository), and he called it Ichijoshikan-in Temple. This temple, called Hieizan-ji Temple, was allowed to use the name of the era and came to be called Enryaku-ji Temple in 824, after Saicho's death. Because then Emperor Kanmu became a devout believer in Saicho and Hieizan-ji Temple, received the support of the emperor and his aides in the Wake clan, it flourished as it was considered the guardian of Kyoto's Kimon (northeast) gate and of the nation.

In 802, Saicho was approved to travel to Tang China as a Gengakusho (a short-term overseas training student). He went to Tang on the ship of Imperial embassies in 804. Saicho proceeded to the holy site of Mt. Tiantai, where he learned the Tiantai doctrine and Bodhisattva precepts from Dozui, a descendant of Tiantai master Zhiyi, and the Tiantai doctrine from a chief priest named Gyoman. He also learned the esoteric teachings from Shunxiao Ajari and Zen from the Reverend Shakunen at Longxing Temple in Yuezhou (Shaoxing). Learning four thoughts of the Tiantai doctrine, the precepts, esoteric teachings and Zen, and transmitting them all to Japan (Shisosojo) was an important part of Saicho's scholarship; and Enryaku-ji Temple took shape as a general university. This is probably the source of patriarchs of the Jodo teachings and the Zen sects who later came out of Enryaku-ji Temple.

Building of the Mahayana Ordination Hall
Although the Japanese Tendai sect was officially recognized in 806, Saicho tried his whole life but was never able to build a Mahayana ordination hall on Mt. Hiei. To build a Mahayana ordination hall was to be completely independent of the old Nara Buddhism, so that Enryaku-ji Temple could train its own monks.

To Saicho the Tendai philosophy was "Ikko Daijo", or the idea that everybody is a Bodhisattva and can become a Buddha (achieve enlightenment); in this sense he was in conflict with old Nara Buddhist thought. At the time in Japan positions as monks were granted by the nation; and since there were only 3 ordination halls for the national recognition of monks (Nara/Todai-ji Temple, Tsukushi/Kanzeon-ji Temple, and Shimotsuke/Yakushi-ji Temple), the Tendai Sect was not able to train monks on its own. Saicho wrote his own ideas about Buddhism in "Sangegakushoshiki," in which he emphasized that he wanted to have those who took vows on Mt. Hiei spend 12 years in Rozan training on the mountain, and after finishing take over the guidance of junior monks on Mt. Hiei if appropriate, or go out and work as Buddhist leaders all over Japan.

The construction of the Mahayana ordination hall was finally approved in 822, on the 7th day after Saicho's death.

Many Famous Monks
After construction of the Mahayana ordination hall, Mt. Hiei produced numerous famous monks who are remembered in the history of Japanese Buddhism. Ennin (Jikaku Daishi, 794-864) and Enchin (Chisho Daishi, 814-891) both studied in Tang China, brought back lots of Buddhist scriptures, and worked to develop Mt. Hiei's esoteric teachings.

Later on, the monks of Mt. Hiei split into an Ennin faction and an Enchin faction and opposed each other bitterly. In 993, about 1000 monks of the Enchin faction left the mountain and held up in Onjo-ji Temple (Mii-dera Temple). After that, the Sanmon (Ennin, Enryaku-ji Temple) and Jimon (Enchin, Onjo-ji Temple) factions had repeated fights; and monk warriors naturally appeared out of the armed monks who participated in this fighting.

Many famous monks came out of Enryaku-ji Temple from the Heian period to the Kamakura period. After Ennin and Enchin there was Ryogen (Jie Daishi), also called "Ganzandaishi," known as the restoration patriarch of Enryaku-ji Temple, who worked to rebuilt the buildings that had burned, maintain temple discipline, and develop scholarship. Eshinsozu Genshin, who laid the foundations of the Jodo teachings when he wrote his Ojoyoshu, and Ryonin, the founder of the Yuzu Nenbutsu sect, also came from Enyraku-ji Temple. From the end of the Heian period into the Kamakura period, the founders of so-called Kamakura New Buddhism started their own teaching around Mt. Hiei.

The following are some of the famous monks who trained at Mt. Hiei.

Ryogen (Jie Daishi/Ganzan Daishi, 912-985): Restoration founder of Mt. Hiei

Genshin (monk) (Eshinsozu, 942-1016): Author of "Ojoyoshu"

Ryonin (Seio Daishi, 1072-1132): Proponent of Yuzu Nenbutsu

Honen (1133-1212): Founder of Japan's Jodo (Pure Land) Sect

Eisai (1141-1215): Founder of Japan's Rinzai Sect

Jien (1155-1225): Author of the historical book "Gukansho"
Tendai Zazu (chief priest of the Tendai sect)

Dogen (1200-1253): Founder of Japan's Soto Sect

Shinran (1173-1262): Founder of the Jodo Shin Sect

Nichiren (1222-1282): Founder of the Nichiren Sect


Enryaku-ji Temple's military strength grew with each passing year, so much so that even Emperor Shirakawa, who wielded great power from his cloister, said "the water of the Kamogawa River, games of dice, and the mountain monks. These things are beyond my control." "The mountain" was, at the time, generally used to refer to Mt. Hiei, and "mountain monks" meant Enryaku-ji Temple's monk warriors. In other words, they were used as an example of something that cannot be controlled, even by a great power. When something happened that did not agree with Enryaku-ji Temple, the monk warriors would pick up their portable shrine (Buddhism and Shinto were mixed up at the time, so god and Buddha were the same) and go to protest, thereby forcing their position on the powerful figures of the time.

In this way Enryaku-ji temple had the military strength to match its influence, and also economic might that came from controlling the flow of goods, and was in a position to ignore the powerful figures of the time almost like an independent country. The monk warriors of Enryaku-ji Temple and those of Kofuku-ji Temple in Nara were together called "Southern City/Northern Mountain," and their might was feared.

Feuding with Samurai (Military) Families

The first powerful figure to try to suppress Enryaku-ji Temple was the 6th Muromachi Shogun, Yoshinori ASHIKAGA. Yoshinori, named Gien before becoming Shogun, was in charge of Mt. Hiei as Tendai Zazu, but opposed Mt. Hiei after returning to secular life.

In 1435, being advised (by all the Daimyo) to seek reconciliation whenever he had an opportunity to suppress Mt. Hiei, and failing to suppress it, Yoshinori chose strategically to invite Enryaku-ji Temple's powerful priests out, and then had them beheaded. In reaction to that the monks of Enryaku-ji Temple barricaded themselves in the Konponchudo Hall and vehemently criticized Yoshinori. However, when Yoshinori did not change his position, the disappointed monks set fire to the Konponchudo Hall in February and killed themselves. In the diary of a powerful figure of the time it was written that "Sanmon Soji-in Temple burned up" (Diary of Mansai Jugo); so it is thought that a few other temples beside Konpochudo Hall were burned either completely or partially. Furthermore, as it was written that "3 Honzon Yakushi were burned" (Daijo-in Temple's daily log), most of the statues from the time of Enchin were lost in fires at that time. In August of the same year, Yoshinori ordered the reconstruction of the burned Konponchudo Hall, and completed it within a few years with contributions from all over the country. Then on May 16 (old calendar), 1450, the object of worship was reconstituted from the burned remains of the old statue and installed in Konponchudo Hall.

Although Yoshinori did succeed in suppressing Enryaku-ji Temple, after he was killed it re-armed and built up an army of thousands of monk warriors, returning to its independent position.

Enryaku-ji Temple maintained its independent nation-like status into the Warring States period (Japan), but in 1499 when Enryaku-ji Temple tried to act in concert with the opposition ex-Shogun Yoshitane ASHIKAGA, the Kanrei (Shogun's Deputy), Masamoto HOSOKAWA attacked it and again reduced Konpochudo Hall to ashes.

Toward the end of the Warring States period when Nobunaga ODA gained control of the area around Kyoto and mounted a political opposition to Shogun Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA, Enryaku-ji Temple took Yoshiaki's side by sheltering the Asai-Asakura coalition army, and taking other anti-Nobunaga actions. In 1571, ascertaining that the corruption of Buddhist politics due to the military and political might of Enryaku-ji Temple's 4000 monk warriors was an obstacle to unification of the warring states, Nobunaga repeatedly demanded that Enryaku-ji Temple disarm, and in response to their resolute refusal surrounded Enryaku-ji Temple on September 12 and burned it down. Enryaku-ji Temple's buildings were completely burned up and many of the monk warriors and monks were killed. In part because the glow of the flames on Mt. Hiei was visible from Kyoto, this event is clearly recorded in the diaries of merchants, court nobles such as Tokitsugu YAMASHINA, and also in reports by the Jesuits (actually, according to Tokitsugu YAMASHINA's diary, soldiers thought to be the Asai army set fire to Enryaku-ji Temple's Saito on October 15 (old calendar) of the previous year, so Enryaku-ji Temple was stuck between a rock and a hard place, getting hit by both Oda and Asai).

After Nobunaga's death, all of the temple buildings were rebuilt by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA and others. The 3rd Shogun, Iemitsu TOKUGAWA rebuilt Konponchudo Hall. After Ieyasu's death, high priest Tenkai built Toeizan Kanei-ji Temple in Ueno to be the guardian of Edo's Kimon (northeast) gate, and the responsibility for the Tendai sect's affairs was transferred to Edo.

Modern Era

For two days on August 3-4, 1987, the "Religious Summit Meeting on Mt. Hiei" was held, at which religious leaders of the world gathered at the invitation of Tendai Zasu Etai YAMADA on the 1200th anniversary of the founding of Mt. Hiei. Every August thereafter, in memory of that event, the " Inter-religious Gathering of Prayer for World Peace" has been held on Mt. Hiei.

In 1994, Enryaku-ji Temple was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site, as part of the "{Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto}."


The grounds of Mt. Hiei are divided into three areas, called Todo, Saito, and Yokawa. Collectively, these are called "Santo", or more specifically "Santo Jurokudani Nibessho". In addition, on the Shiga Prefecture side, at the base of the mountain, there are Shiga-in Temple (main temple), a group of branch temples called Satobo, and Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine, which has deep connections to Mt. Hiei.

Santo Jurokudani Nibessho

Todo – Kita-dani, Higashi-dani, Minami-dani, Nishi-dani, Mudo-ji-dani

Saito – Higashi-dani, Minami-dani, Minami-odani, Kita-odani, Kita-dani

Yokawa – Kabo-dani, Gedatsu-dani, Kaishin-dani, Tosotsu-dani, Hannya-dani, Imuro-dani

Bessho – Kuro-dani, Anraku-dani


The original grounds of Enryaku-ji Temple, it is the area centered around the main hall, Komponchudo Hall.

Komponchudo Hall (National Treasure) _ The remains of Ichijoshikan-in Temple, built by Saicho
The current building was rebuilt by Iemitsu TOKUGAWA in 1642 after it was burned by Nobunaga ODA. Designated a National Treasure in 1954. At 37.6m wide, 23.9m deep, and 24.2m tall, it is a large building in the Irimoya style. It has a distinctive structure, with the dirt-floored inner sanctuary 3 meters lower than the outer nave. In the inner part there are three miniature box shrines, the center one of which holds a standing statue of Yakushi Nyorai, not for public display, that is said to have been made by Saicho himself (its doors were opened in 1988 for the temple's 1200th anniversary). The hanging lanterns in front of the box shrine are the "ever-burning dharma lights" that continue from the time of Saicho. These dharma lights were temporarily extinguished when Nobunaga burned the temple, but they were relighted with a flame from Risshaku-ji Temple in Yamagata Prefecture that had been lit from them, and they continue burning to this day. In 1443 when the Hino clan of Gonancho, seeking the restoration of the Southern Court, stole some of the Three Sacred Treasures from the Imperial Palace in Kyoto in the Kinketsu Incident, the gang hid out in the Komponchudo Hall until the Imperial Court issued a warrant and they were killed by the Shogun's army and monk warriors.

Monju-ro – Rebuilt after a fire in 1668
A two-story gate, Monju Bosatsu is housed upstairs. Located due east of the Komponchudo Hall, it serves as a gate for the other temples.

Great Lecture Hall (Important Cultural Property) – Rebuilt in 1634
Originally the Sanbutsudo Hall of Toshogu at Sakamoto on the eastern foot of the mountain, it was moved here in 1964. The old Great Lecture Hall, which was an Important Cultural Property, burned in 1956. Dainichi Nyorai is enshrined there. On either side of Dainichi are, from the left as one faces the statue, statues of Nichiren, Dogen, Eisai, Enchin, Honen, Shinran, Ryonin, Shinsei, and Ippen. Each of them is a monk who trained at Enryaku-ji Temple in his youth; these statues were contributed by their various sects.

Hokkesojiin Todo – Rebuilt in 1980
Though it is shaped like a two-storied pagoda, it differs from normal two-storied pagodas in that the upper story is a square instead of a flat circle. In the lower level is a Womb Realm Dainichi Nyorai; and in the upper level are relics of the Buddha and 1000 Lotus Sutras (Hokkekyo).

Kaidan-in Temple (Important Cultural Property) - Rebuilt in 1678

National Treasure Hall _ Stores and displays statues that are not installed as an object of worship in other halls, paintings, crafts, and writings.

Located about 15 minutes' walk from the Jodo-in Temple/Todo area. There is the mausoleum of the sect's founder, Saicho, which is considered to be the most sacred place in the complex. Monks doing the 12 Year Rozan Training are in this area, and they bring food to Saicho every day as if he were alive, and keep the garden so clean that there is not even 1 fallen leaf.

Mudo-ji Temple- About 1.5km south of Konponchudo Hall, it is the center of the 1000 Day Circumambulation. It enshrines Fudo Myoo. It was built in 865 by Soo-kasho, who is said to be the originator of the Circumambulation training.

Daisho-in - Built from a portion of Kichibe MURAI's mansion in Tokyo that was moved here on the occasion of Emperor Showa's coronation, it is used as a reception hall.


Tenporin-do Hall (Important Cultural Property) - The central structure of Saito, it is also called Shaka-do Hall. This building was the Kondo Hall from Onjo-ji Temple (built in 1347), which was forcibly moved here by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI in 1595 after its predecessor was burned by Nobunaga. The main object of worship is a standing statue of Shaka Nyorai (Important Cultural Property).

Jogyo-do Hall/Hokke-do Hall (Important Cultural Property) - The two identical structures stand side by side. The one on the right-hand side is Hokke-do Hall, dedicated to Fugen Bosatsu, and the one on the left is Jogyo-do Hall, dedicated to Amida Nyorai; both were built in 1595. With a corridor between the two buildings, the whole structure looks like a shoulder carrying pole, which is why it is nicknamed "carrying hall".

Ruri-do Hall (Important Cultural Property) - It is on the path from the Saito area to Kuro-dani (see below). It is the only building that escaped burning by Nobunaga. Stylistically, it is a building of the Muromachi period.

Seiryu-ji Temple (Sakamoto, Otsu City) - Located in Kuro-dani, 1.5km from the Saito area, it is famous for being the place where Honen did his training.


Located about 4km north of Saito. It started in 850 when Jikaku-daishi/Ennin built the Shuryogon-in Temple.

Yokawa Chudo Hall- No. 18 of the New Saigoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Sites
The previous building burned after a lightning strike in 1942; and the present hall is a steel-reinforced concrete structure built in 1971. Its main object of worship is a standing statue of Shokannon (Important Cultural Property).

Konpon Nyoho-to - A two-story pagoda, the current structure is a reconstruction from the Taisho era. It started as the place where Ennin made and stored copies of the Lotus Sutra (Hokkekyo).

Gansandaishi-do Hall - It is called Shiki Kodo Hall (4 seasons lecture hall) from the practice of holding seasonal discussion about the Lotus Sutra (Hokkekyo) there. It is the place where fortune telling slips started.

National Treasures

Konponchudo Hall (with Shumidan altar and 3 box shrines)

Gilt Copper Scripture Box - Metalwork from the late Heian period
Excavated from Yokawa

Hosoge-makie-kyo-bako - Lacquerware from the late Heian period

Shichijo-shino Stole and Shino Robe - Clothes that Saicho brought back from Tang China.

Denkyodaishi-shorai-mokuroku - A hand-written record of the scriptures that Saicho brought from Yuezhou in Tang China.

Katsuma Kongo Mokuroku - Saicho's hand-written record of the items he received.

Tendai-hokkeshu-nenbun-engi - Written by Saicho

Rokuso Eno-den - A copy that Saicho brought back from Tang China

Denkyodaishi Nittocho - Saicho's travel permit from Tang China

Kojokaicho - Written by Emperor Saga, one of the "3 Great Calligraphers"

Important Cultural Properties

Konponchudo Hall Corridor
Tenporindo Hall (Shakado Hall)
Mahayana Ordination Hall
Rurido Hall
Jogyodo Hall and Hokkedo Hall (with corridor)

Image of Tendaidaishi, color on silk
Image of Tendaidaishi, color on silk, Arisa
Image of Soo-kasho, color on silk
Image of Fudomyoo Sandaidoji Gobushisha, color on silk
Image of Monju-Bosatsu, color on silk
Image of Sanno Honchi, color on silk - This piece was originally kept at Kannon-ji Temple (Ashiurakannon-ji Temple) in Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture, and passed through a private collection before it was donated to Enryaku-ji Temple.

Sanno Reigenki, color on paper

Wooden Statue of Standing Shaka Nyorai (installed in Shakado Hall)
Wooden Statue of Standing Shokannon (installed in Yokawachudo Hall)
Wooden Statue of Standing Kojo Daishi (previously located in Sanroku Daishido Hall)
Wooden Statue of Fudo Myoo Nidoji (previously located in Mudo-ji Temple Myoo-do Hall)
Wooden Statue of Standing Gozanze Myoo (previously located in Mudo-ji Temple Myoo-do Hall)
Wooden Statue of Standing Gundariyasha Myoo (previously located in Mudo-ji Temple Myoo-do Hall)
Wooden Statue of Daiitoku Myoo (previously located in Mudo-ji Temple Myoo-do Hall)
Wooden Statue of Standing Kongoyasha Myoo (previously located in Mudo-ji Temple Myoo-do Hall)
Wooden Statue of Standing Shitenno (previously located in Konponchudo Hall)
Wooden Statues of Standing Shitenno - 2 statues (previously located in Shakado Hall)
Wooden Statue of Standing Senjukannon (previously located in Sanno-in Temple)
Wooden Statue of Standing Fudo Myoo (previously located in Imuro Fudo-do Hall)
Wooden Statue of Sitting Yuimakoji (from Seiryu-ji Temple in Sakamoto, Otsu City)
Wooden Statue of Sitting Jie Daishi (from Seiryu-ji Temple in Sakamoto, Otsu City)
Wooden Statue of Sitting Jie Daishi (from Hongaku-in temple collection)
Wooden Statue of Standing Amida Nyorai (from Shiga-in Temple collection)
Wooden Statue of Standing Kisshoten (from Shiga-in Temple collection)
Wooden Statue of Standing Daikokuten (from Ritsu-in Temple collection)
The Wooden Yakushi-Nyorai Seated Statue was designated an Important Cultural Property (previously National Treasure) in 1944, while it was in a private collection in Hyogo Prefecture, and was later donated to Enryaku-ji Temple.

Craft Works
Onagadori Shuen Gemonkin Uchishiki

Books, Ancient Texts and Historical Documents
Hokkekyo on blue paper with silver and gold writing - 8 scrolls
Hokkekyo, silver writing on blue paper - 8 scrolls
Kegon Yogi Mondo - written by Gyofuku
Shittanzo - 8 volumes
Denjutsu-Isshin Kaimon - 3 volume set
Enryaku-ji Temple Ryogonzanmaiinge - 15th day of the 1st month of the 3rd year of Tenroku
Sanmon Saiko Monjo
Dozui Kasho Dendomon
Shuzon Wooden Printing Type (with accessories)
Items Belonging to Sub-Temples
Eiko-in Temple - Image of Fudo Nidoji, color on silk
Jitsuzo-bo Temple - Image of Bishamonten, color on silk; Crystal Reliquary
Dairin-in Temple- Image of Fudomyoo Nidoji, color on silk; Wooden Statue of Seated Fudo Myoo
Juryo-in Temple - Wooden Statue of Seated Amida Nyorai
Jojitsu-in Temple - Wooden Statue of Standing Amida Nyorai
Keijitsu-in Temple - Wooden Statue of Seated Jigan Daishi
Guho-ji Temple - Wooden Statue of Seated Jie Daishi
Myotoku-in Temple - Image of Jizo Bosatsu, color on silk
Myogyo-in Temple - Wooden Statue of Standing Jizo Bosatsu
Gyokuren-in Temple - Wooden Statue of Standing Fudo Myoo Nidoji
Kobo-ji Temple - Silver and Gold-Plated Water Vessel - Hokkekyo (illuminated scripture)

In addition to those listed above, Enryaku-ji Temple is the designated Managing Body (under article 32.2 of the Law for Protection of Cultural Properties) for the following Important Cultural Properties, and they are stored in Mt. Hiei's National Treasure Hall (Kokuhoden).

Owned by Myoo-in Temple (Katsuragawa Bomuracho, Otsu City)
Komyoshingon Kudoku Picture Scroll, color on paper
Image of Fudo Myoo Nidoji, color on silk
Wooden Statues of Standing, 1000-armed Kannon, Fudo Myoo, and Bishamonten
Katsuragawa Myoo-in Temple Monjo
Katsuragawa Toikadachisho Soron Ezu
Katsuragawa Myoo-in Temple Sanro-fuda
Owned by Rendai-ji Temple (Ritto City, Shiga Prefecture)
Wooden Statue of Yakushi Nyorai with Flanking Samurais

Cultural Properties Designated by Shiga Prefecture

Amida-do Bell Tower
Shiki Kodo Hall

The temple grounds are designated a national historic landmark, as well as a natural monument in the form of the "Mt. Hiei Bird Breeding Area."

In December 1994, it was also registered as a World Heritage Site as part of the "{Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto}".

Cultural Properties Lost to Fire

The following 1 building and 1 craft work were lost in a fire that was started by lightning on July 30, 1942.

(Old) Yokawa Chudo Hall - Former Architectural National Treasure

Copper Tube - Was an accessory to the Gilt Copper Scripture Box (National Treasure)

On October 11, 1956, the following 2 buildings and 3 sculptures were lost in a fire started by arson (all were Important Cultural Properties).

(Old) Great Lecture Hall
Great Lecture Hall Bell Tower
Copper Statue of Seated Shaka Nyorai
Wooden Statues of Standing Jikokuten and Tamonten
Wooden Statue of Seated Amida Nyorai

Harsh Training

Rozan Training

The training at Mt. Hiei is harsh. In order to become the priest of "In" or "Bo" (temples) in the complex, one has to stay up on the mountain for 3 years. In the 3 years of Rozan training, the 1st year is spent helping the Jishin look after Jodo-in Temple's Saicho-byo, the 2nd year must include a 100 day circumambulation, and the 3rd year 90 days training in either the Jogyo-do Hall or Hokke-do Hall. Training in the Jogyo-do hall (Jogyo-zanmai) involves walking continuously around the statue of Amida Nyorai, during which time chanting the Nenbutsu is allowed, although it is basically a kind of Zen. Trainees are not allowed to lie down for 90 days, although they can doze while leaning on the railing for a few hours each day. The training conducted in the Hokke-do Hall is called Joza-zanmai, and involves non-stop sitting meditation, including napping in that posture.

Kosogyo training is mandatory for, and must be completed before permission will be granted for, 12 Year Rozan training. In Kosogyo, a trainee prostrates himself in the hall of worship of Jodo-in Temple 3000 times every day until he has a "koso." "Koso" is a kind of mystical experience, depicted in scriptures as a Buddha appearing close by and stroking the person's head, or the appearance of a 5-colored light, but the details are kept secret. It can happen in as little as 1-2 weeks, but takes many years for some.

One Thousand Day Circumambulation

The 1000 Day Circumambulation is a training approved only for selected individuals who have finished a 12 Year Rozan training and a 100 Day Circumambulation. There is a rule that trainees must kill themselves if they are unable to continue the training, so they always carry a rope with which to hang themselves and a short sword. They wear a hat shaped like an unopened lotus flower, put on white robes, and wear straw sandals. The circumambulation spans 7 years.

They depart at 2 o'clock in the morning after a religious service at Mudoji-dani. While chanting a mantra they worship at 260 places, including Todo, Saito, Yokawa and Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine, covering about 30km in six hours or so.

After the 700th day of walking, an indoor ritual is performed. They enter into nearly a 9-day (about 7 and a half full days) seclusion of no food, no water, no sleep, and no lying down in Mudoji-dani Myoo-do hall. Before the ritual, trainees conduct their own funeral and chant the mantra of Fudo Myoo. Upon coming out, trainees become Dai Ajari, the embodiment of Fudo Myoo, and are greeted by the joined hands of believers. At this juncture trainees move from Jirigyo training for their own benefit to Ketagyo training for the salvation of all life, and add a trip to Kyoto's Sekizanzen-in Temple to their route, walking about 60km per day for the next 100 days. The 7th year involves 200 days, with an 84km trip around Kyoto for the first 100 days, which is scaled back to 30km on Mt. Hiei for the last 100 days, to complete the 1000 days. Enryaku-ji Temple's records list 47 people who have finished this training. There are 3 people who completed the training twice, including the still living Yusai SAKAI Dai Ajari.

Those who have completed a 1000 Day Circumambulation are allowed a visit to the Kyoto Imperial Palace, and go in with their shoes on. Normally shoes are not allowed in the Kyoto Imperial Palace; only those who have completed the 1000 Day Circumambulation are allowed in with their shoes on.

Girikake Memorial Services for Yakuza (Criminal) Gangs

A memorial service for the past bosses of the designated gang Yamaguchi-gumi was held at Enryaku-ji Temple on April 21, 2006. Even though Shiga Prefectural Police requested a stop to the services, Enryaku-ji Temple refused the request, saying that "this is just a religious service," after which a "Special Eitai Eko" was held in Enryaku-ji temple's Amida-do Hall, a grand ceremony attended by nearly 100 gang members, including top executives. Later, after the service had finished without incident, Enryaku-ji temple's legal department issued a statement to reporters, saying that "we want to refuse services for gangs in the future."

Roughly 30 years before that, in 1976, at an All Japan Buddhist Conference, the Japan Buddhist Federation, of which approximately 75,000 temples in all areas of the country, including Enryaku-ji Temple, are members, passed a resolution calling for "exclusion of criminal gangs," and on March 13, 2006, Chairman of the Federation Ko YASUHARA had made a statement calling for members to "stop cooperating with girikake memorial services for organized criminal gangs" right before the event. After the service, the Japan Buddhist Federation declared its dissatisfaction with Enryaku-ji Temple, which had ignored these resolutions and declarations. Enryaku-ji Temple has yet to make a formal reply.

Even though previously, in the Warring States period, this temple had been burned down by Nobunaga ODA for being a den of immoral monks, it still today is tolerant of anti-social organizations; some view this as proof that the temple's spirit of tolerance and receptiveness has been passed down from the middle ages.


Reference Works

"Mt. Hiei: Visiting its History and Culture" Edited by Enryaku-ji Temple Executive Office, Published by Mt. Hiei Enryaku-ji Temple, 1993
"Saicho and Tendai National Treasures (Special Exhibition Picture Record)" Edited by Tokyo National Museum and Kyoto National Museum, published by Yomiuri Shinbun, 2005
"A Pilgrimage to Ancient Temples 26: Enryaku-ji Temple" by Shotaro YASUOKA and Gensho YODA, Yasushi INOUE and Zenryu TSUKAMOTO, editors. Tankosha Publishing, 1978
"Showa Kyoto Landmark Guide: Rakunan" Toshinori TAKEMURA, Shinshindo, 1982
"Mt. Hiei: 1200th Anniversary of the Founding of the Tendai Sect (Bessatsu Taiyo)" Heibonsha, 2006
"Shukan Asahi Hyakka: National Treasures of Japan" No. 16 Asahi Shinbun, 1998
"Japanese Historical Place Names: Place Name of Kyoto City" Heibonsha
"Kadokawa Dictionary of Japanese Place Names: Kyoto Prefecture" Kadokawa Shoten Publishing
"The Great Dictionary of National History" Yoshikawa Kobunkan

[Original Japanese]