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World Heritage / Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto

Criteria: (ii) (iv) | Date of Inscription: 1994 | Location: Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures | Justification for Inscription


Things to see


Enryaku-ji Temple encompasses the whole of Mt.Hiei, (also known as the "Mother Mountain of Japanese Buddhism") and is an important center of Japanese Buddhism being the head temple of the Tendai sect. Enryaku-ji Temple is the collective term for the many pagodas and temples dotted around the grounds of Mt.Hiei and down to its eastern slopes. Known generally as Santo-Jurokutani, Mt Hiei includes three major precincts, To-do (Easter Pagoda), Sai-to (Western Pagoda) and Yokawa.
Enryaku-ji Temple dates from a small hut named Ichijyo-sikan-in that was originally built in 785AD by a young Buddhist monk named Saicho. It was in 824AD that the temple name of Enryaku-ji, derived from the then era, came into use. In the time since, Enryaku-ji has produced many founders of various Buddhist sects such as Honen (founder of the Jodo sect), Shinran (of the Jodo Shinshu sect), Eisai (of the Rinzai sect), Dogen (of the Sodo sect) and Nichiren (of the Nichiren sect).
The three main areas of Enryaku-ji on Mt.Hiei are named To-do (Easter Pagoda), Sai-to (Western Pagoda) and Yokawa. The areas are collectively called Santo and individually referred to as Santo-Jurokutani-Nibessho. Besides these, an important core temple of Shiga is located in Sakamoto on the side of the mountain in Shiga Prefecture together with its branch temples, Sato-bo: residential quarters attached to temples in villages, and affiliated Hiyoshi Taisha.
To-do, the birthplace of Enryaku-ji is home to the Kompon chu-do (the main hall) which can be found in the center part of the compound. Now a national treasure, Kompon chu-do is the site of the Ichijyo-sikan-in hut built by Saicho but the present building is a 1642 reconstruction by Tokugawa Ieyasu after the original was burnt down by Oda Nobunaga. The Kompon chu-do was designated as a national treasure in 1954.
Inside the building are three miniature shrines. The central shrine contains Yakushi Nyorai (the healing Buddha), a statue rarely shown to the public and attributed to Saicho. The lanterns in front of the main altar are the "Immortal Religious Lights" and are believed to have never been extinguished since the time of Saicho.
Temporin-do, alternatively called Shaka-do, is an important cultural asset and is the central temple in the Sai-to compound. Temporin-do, the then Kon-do hall of Onjo-ji Temple was forcibly moved here in 1595 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to replace an earlier hall destroyed by Oda Nobunaga.
Yokawa is located about 4 km north of Sai-to and originated as Shuryogon-in Temple - established by Jikaku-taishi (the great priest) Enjin in 850 AD.
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