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Historic Temples of Japan: Enryakuji, Mount Hiei

Mist and Rain, One Century Ago

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An antique photograph of Enryakuji, a complex of temples on Mount Hiei, near Kyoto. The building on the right may be Enryaku Pagoda.
Hieizan Enryakuji temple at Mount Hiei, Kyoto, ca. 1900-10

Lantern-slide image of Hieizan Enryakuji temple at Mount Hiei, Kyoto, ca. 1900-10, attributed to Kozaburo Tamura and published by T. Takagi of Kobe, Japan. The color in the image was added later and may not be accurate.

Okinawa Soba/Flickr.com, Creative Commons License

It was here on Mount Hiei that the monk Saicho (767-822) established the first Tendai monastery in Japan. Enryakuji became a great center of Buddhist learning that influenced all schools of Buddhism in Japan for centuries. At its peak Enryakuji had as many as 3,000 sub-temples and an army of warrior monks to protect them.

The warlord Oda Nobunaga destroyed most of the original structures in 1571. Most of the current structures date from the 16th and 17th centuries.

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