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.