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Sakamoto Historic Town and Mt. Hiei

Highlights

  • Walk through quiet stone-walled streets in the historic town of Sakamoto
  • See the beautiful Japanese landscape garden and Buddhist arts at Shigain-monzeki, a former residence of retired head monks of Enryakuji
  • Visit the Hiyoshitaisha shrine complex sprawling in a deep cedar forest
  • Ride on the Sakamoto Cable, Japan's longest funicular railway
  • Visit the World Heritage site of Enryakuji on the top of Hiei-zan
  • Worship at the quiet cavernous hall of Konpon-chudo
  • Spectacular view of Biwa-ko from the top of Hiei-zan (on a clear day!)

Description

The tour starts from JR Kyoto Station taking a train north for 15-20 minutes to Hieizan-Sakamoto Station. After passing through two tunnels, glittering Biwa-ko will come into sight through the train window on your right, and luxuriant green of the range of Hiei-zan, on the left.

Leaving the station, we walk uphill through the historic town of Sakamoto along mossy stone walls, seeing temples, shrines and numbers of small streams from Hiei-zan. The first destination is Shigain-Monzeki, which was the town's main "satobo" (residence for retired monks of Enryakuji temple) where the imperial-blooded head monks resided. You see here a traditional Japanese landscape garden and pieces of Buddhist art. What waits for us next is 2,100 years old Hiyoshitaisha shrine complex, which is known as the headquarters of about 3,800 Hiyoshi or Hie shrines throughout Japan, and as a guardian shrine of the former capital of Kyoto. In the tranquil precincts nestled in calm and deep cedar forest, you will feel that religions in Japan have an intimate relation with nature. After Hiyoshitaisha we have lunch at a nearby Japanese restaurant.

The tour then heads up to Hiei-zan by taking a scenic ride on the Sakamoto Cable which is the country's longest funicular railway. After a 10-minute walk from the top station, we will arrive at To-do (Eastern-pagoda) area of the Enryakuji temple complex. Enryakuji was established in the 8th century as the home of the Tendai School, which is now one of the most important sects of Japanese Buddhism. Important buildings of the complex are concentrated in this To-do area, with its icon of Konpon-chudo, the main hall. Worship in mystic atmosphere at the quiet cavernous hall of Konpon-chudo is sure to be one of the highlight experiences of this tour. In the dark inner chamber below behind the worship floor, there are three lanterns which are said to have been burning perpetually for the past 1,200 years ever since the founder Saicho lit them.

After visiting a few smaller halls in To-do, we walk along the path through cedar forest to Sai-to (western pagoda) area. The tour ends up at JR Kyoto Station after a 70-minute public bus ride direct from Sai-to. (In winter, after visiting several halls in To-do, we go down Sakamoto by funicular and head back to JR Kyoto Station by bus and JR.)

Itinerary

JR Kyoto Station (Departure)

Train

JR Hieizan-Sakamoto Station

Walk

Strolling around Sakamoto historic town
- Shigain-Monzeki
- Hiyoshitaisha shrine
- Lunch

Funicular

Strolling around Enryakuji temple complex
- To-do area
- Sai-to area (Weather permitting)

Public Bus

JR Kyoto Station (Return)

<In winter (from early December to late March)>

JR Kyoto Station (Departure)

Train

JR Hieizan-Sakamoto Station

Walk

Strolling around Sakamoto historic town
- Shigain-Monzeki
- Hiyoshitaisha shrine
- Lunch

Funicular

Strolling around To-do area of Enryakuji temple complex

Funicular & Public Bus (Walk instead of public bus on weekdays)

JR Hieizan-Sakamoto Station

Train

JR Kyoto Station (Return)

Tour includes

  • English-speaking tour conductor (licensed guide interpreter)
  • Admission fees to temples and shrines listed above
  • Fare for all transportation listed above
  • Insurance
  • Local tax

Tour does NOT include

  • Lunch (Order and pay as you like at the lunch venue)

Remarks

  • If you stay in Shiga Prefecture, our departure and return point may be changed into a more convenient place.
  • Packing light and wearing comfortable walking shoes are highly recommended. In this tour we will walk a lot and parts of paths in temples and shrines are gravel. A coin-operated locker is available at JR Kyoto Station.
  • Be sure to be prepared for all weather conditions depending on the season. It often snows in winter and the sunlight in summer is usually blazing.
  • You can break away from the tour at Demachiyanagi or Sanjo-Keihan station on the way back to Kyoto from Enryakuji by bus.
  • A few more places may be visited in accordance with your request if time and other conditions allow.
  • Seats in public transportations are not guaranteed.
  • Itinerary may change without earlier notice due to weather and transport conditions or any unforeseen circumstance(s).

Gallery

Enryakuji (Conpon-chudo in the To-do area)
Stone walls in Sakamoto Shigain-MonzekiStone bridges in Hiyoshitaisha Shrine
Hiyoshitaisha Shrine in autumnSakamoto CableView from the top station
Enryakuji (To-do area)Enryakuji (To-do area)Path to the Sai-to area of Hieizan-Enryakuji
Booking Enquiry Form »

Price (per person):

No. of person(s)Price
1¥19,000
2-3¥14,000
4-5¥11,500
6-10¥10,000

Children under 5 are free of charge and not included in guest count.

Discounts!

  • ¥300pp off for adults with a valid JR pass
  • ¥1,700pp/¥1,500pp off for children aged 6-11 with/without a valid JR pass

Tour operates:

Every day

Group size:

Minimum 1 / Maximum 10

Language:

English (and of course Japanese)


Meeting time:

9:00 am

Meeting point:

JR Kyoto Station (Next to the JR Information desk in the central concourse)  » MAP

Your tour conductor with a YUtour's logo card hung from his neck will be waiting to greet you.

Returning time:

5:15 pm approx.