Mt. Hiei, Kyoto’s eastern mountain range straddles two prefectures, Kyoto and Shiga. It is also known for Enryaku-ji Temple of Japan’s sacred spot of Buddhism. It’s a decent 1day trip out of Kyoto to enjoy gardens, temples and shrines, and hiking trails..
Access from Kyoto
By JR : Take the JR Kosei line from JR Kyoto station to Hieizan-Sakamoto station.
By Kyoto Subway : Take the Tozai line and Otsu line to Biwako-Hamaotsu station, and switch to the Keihan Ishiyama-Sakamoto line to Sakamoto-Hieizanguchi station.
10-minute walk from Keihan Sakamoto-Hieizanguchi station, 20-minute walk from JR Hieizan-Sakamoto station, or : take the bus No. 31, 33, 41 from the station.
Former Chikurin-in Temple, originally a villa of Enryaku-ji monks, is famous for its huge strolling-style garden with a beautiful scenary. Visitors can taste matcha green tea with beautiful scenary of the garden.
Hours : 9:00 to 16:30(Monday closed), Admission : 320 Yen
A short walk to Hiyoshi -Taisha Shrine.
Hiyoshi-Taisha Shrine protects people from misfortune and disasters. The shrine is famous for beautiful autumn colors and monkeys known as divine messengers. Visitors can see the different shaped torii gate, inscribing the character for mountain “山” on the top.
Hours : 9:00 to 16:30, Admission : 300 Yen
A short walk to the Cable Sakamot station.
The cablecar takes about 10 minutes to the upper station then 10 minute walk to the Temple.
Enryaku-ji Temple, located on Mt. Hieizan. The huge temple is divided into three areas with beautiful scenary and buildings. Visitors can also have panoramic views of the mountain and the Lake Biwa from hiking trails, or the ropeway.
Hours : 8:30 to 16:30 (March to November), 9:00 to 16:00 (December), 9:00 to 16:30 (January and February), Admission : 700 Yen
4. Cafe Reihou/ 喫茶れいほう
The cafe at the Enryaku-ji kaikan hall has a relaxing atmosphere, and the window seats setting overlooking picturesque view of Lake Biwa, framed with green and red maple leaves.
Matcha latte made by Kyoto’s matcha and spring water with kanji latte-art is very popular here. Breakfast, and lunch are served as well.
Hours : 9:00 to 16:00
30-minute walk to Garden museum Hiei, or Shuttle bus runs every 30 minute.
5. Gaeden Museum Hiei
The Garden Museum, located at the summit of Mt. Hiei offers 100,000 blossoms of various flowers with framed paintings of nature, based on French impressionism. Some paintings are exactly the same as the background, like Monet’s Iris lake.
Visitors can enjoy strolling this open air art gallery with an incredible view of both Lake Biwa and the city of Kyoto.
Hours : 10:00 to 17:00, Admission : 1200 Yen
Official home page : http://www.garden-museum-hiei.co.jp/
Alternative route : The Eizan Ropeway and Eizan Cablecar take you to Yase station of the other side of the mountain in Kyoto. You can take the Eizan Main Line to Demachi-yanagi station from there. (The cable car and ropeway are not in operation from early-December to mid-March)