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Hiei-zan is a mountain in the northeast of Kyoto. It’s an incredibly beautiful place to visit, even in summer as it’s relatively cool up there. Just be careful of bears and Japanese giant hornets. Yes, it's a thing, and these hornets kill more people than bears in Japan.
Mount Hieizan is particularly beautiful during spring for the cherry blossom (Sakura), and the autumn for the autumn leaves (Koyo).
The main attraction is Enryakuji - a stunning Tendai monastery built during the Heian period. Enryakuji is the headquarters of the Tendai sect and is one of the most important and significant in Japan’s history. The temple was established by SaichÅ (767–822), a Japanese Buddhist monk who made known and essentially introduced the Tendai sect of Mahayana Buddhism to Japan from China. Such as it is, it has become a UNESCO World Heritage site as a Historic Monument of Ancient Kyoto. It is certainly worth a visit as it really is beautiful and set in stunning scenery. You can even see lake Biwa from certain points. Enryakuji is spread out over various parts which you can walk between.
I can't help but love forest in Japan. Something very mysterious about them. And the forests on Mount Hiei are beautiful
Enryakuji has been caught up in a scandal and has become a bit of local shaming point. On April 4, 2006, the temple performs a ceremony for the then leaders of the Yamaguchi Gumi, which is the largest and most powerful Yakuza (Japanese organised crime) family in Japan and arguably the world. Such temple ceremonies have been used by the Yamaguchi-gumi as displays of power as well as fundraisers, the Shiga prefectural police requested to Enryakuji owners and managers to cease performance of the ceremony, which they rejected. Because Enryakuji rejected this request by the police, they received a huge amount of money from the Yamaguchi-gumi and allowed hundreds of high-level Yamaguchi-gumi leaders to attend.
This was reported by the two biggest national newspapers which resulted in a national scandal. The move was also criticised by the Japan Buddhist temple association which was leading a movement against organised crime in Japan. Finally, in May, the directors of Enryakuji formally apologised and resigned, sending apology emails to 3000 branch temples.