日本の仏教寺院の礎になった「比叡山延暦寺」。【比叡山延暦寺Ⅰ】 “Hieizan Enryaku-ji” is the cornerstone of Japanese Buddhist temples.



I visited “Hieizan Enryaku-ji” in late autumn last year. Maybe it’s my third time, but it’s been a while, so I don’t remember much. To me, I think that Hieizan Enryaku-ji and Koyasan Kongobu-ji are the two biggest temples in Japan. Enryaku-ji is the Tendai sect, and Kongobu-ji is the main temple of the Shingon sect. It is famous as a temple opened by monks named Saicho and Kukai, who often appeared in social textbooks.


Unfortunately, when I visited, the national treasure “Konponchudo” was in the midst of a major refurbishment. Konponchudo was rebuilt by Iemitsu Tokugawa after being burned down by Nobunaga Oda in 1642, and it has been repaired for about 400 years. With this major renovation, I was able to experience things that I can’t see, put in, or feel.

根本中堂の扉 /  Gate of the Konponchudo


The Konponchudo was covered with steel due to the construction and looked like a national treasure temple, but when you pass through the steel, you can see various things. Roof structure, Tochi roofing (roofing with a wooden board) and roof tile bar copper board relining etc. And the special paintings that can only be seen in a particular temple, such as the exterior walls of the corridor, were intriguing.


I was most impressed by the fact that it was being renovated, and several monks inside the main hall carefully explained the history and outline of the Enryaku-ji Temple to the worshipers. This is the ” Shosenichigu” that has been passed down to the Tendai sect. Is it a teaching that “illuminates one corner”?
According to the explanation from the priest, the priest himself was surprised that the door to the main hall of the Konponchudo opened. Normally, only the owner passes through this door, and the door (door shown in the photo) of the passage where monks and worshipers can not come and go has been released, and anyone can come and go freely. It was also said that this was due to a major renovation.


By the way, “Enryaku-ji” is not the name of a single temple, but about 150 temples located in the areas such as the east tower (Toudou), west tower (Saito), and Yokogawa (Yokawa), which are located from the top of the mountain to the eastern foot of Mount Hiei. It is a generic term. Mount Hiei temples and shrines were said to have consisted of more than 3,000 temples and shrines at their peak.
The core hall corresponds to the Konponchudo.


The fact that many Buddhist monks were practicing at the Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple shows that it was the cornerstone of Japanese Buddhism. Well-known monks in the history of Japanese Buddhism, such as the founder Honen of the Jodo sect, the founder Shinran of the Jodo Shinshu, the founder of the Nichiren sect, Nichiren, the founder of the Rinzai sect, Eisai, and the founder of the Soto sect, Dogen. Many monks are practicing on Mount Hiei on a younger day. Then, each sect was founded and each main temple was opened.


Continued to Hieizan Enryaku-ji II.

レポート & 写真 /  渡邉雄二

Reported & Photo by Yuji Watanabe