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My name is Lisa and I'm a crafty girl with wanderlust working as an engineer by day. My blog chronicles projects in my home as well as pictures and stories from my travels.

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Saturday
Dec032011

Visiting Hieizan Enryaku-ji

Whenever I come to Japan for work I usually make the most of my weekends by traveling around and this trip was no different.  I decided to spend my Saturday by visiting Enryaku-ji, which is a Buddhist monastary on Hieizan (Mt. Hiei) overlooking Kyoto. Founded in 788, Enryaku-ji is home of the Tendai sect of Buddhism and one of the most important monastaries in Japanese history.

To get to Enryaku-ji I took the train to Sakamoto and from there caught a cable car up Hieizan.  When I first arrived it was a little misty, but within about 15 minutes a steady drizzle began and a heavy fog rolled in.  On the one hand I was a little dissapointed because you had to be nearly on top of something to see it, but on the other hand the fog lent a serenity to the mountain top and drove away some of the other visitors.  It was enchanting to be walking along and see a gorgeous, ancient temple materialize from the fog as I walked toward it, almost as if it appeared from thin air.

My favorite temple that I saw was Kaidan-in, which is where aspiring Tendai sect priests are ordained by receiving the commandments of Buddhism. I was particularly struck by the beautiful but simple doors and I loved the worn patina that the paint had developped over time. No one else was in the grove where the temple is located when I visited which made it even more special. 

On a side note, the walk through Sakamoto between the train and cable car turned out to be a beautiful, unexpected surprise.  The main road was lined with lovely Japanese maple trees that were at the peak of their color making it a lovely walk and adding to my trip.

If you are interested, check out the rest of my December 2011 Japan Trip here: Kobe: Luminarie + Beef, Autumn in Kyoto, Favorite Eats in Toyota-shi, Centrair Airport Bath

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