SKP Day Trip to Hieizan - Vikingess Voyages

Monday, December 12, 2011

SKP Day Trip to Hieizan

Though I'm not in Ritsumeikan's Study in Kyoto Program any longer I still am lucky enough to get invitations to some of the events they are holding for the exchange students! This weekend it was time for a trip to the top of one of the mountains surrounding Kyoto; Mt. Hiei (比叡山). My home town in Norway, Bergen, is well-known for being surrounded by its seven mountains, and it is quite normal that people from time to time climbs them too. But since I came to Kyoto, however, I never had climbed to the top of a single mountain (though I did some trekking in Bolivia).. In other words, it was about time for some mountain-climbing!..
Chris points the route of the day

Saturday morning I met up with the other participating SKP-studients and -buddies, and we went together to the east side of Kyoto by bus. After a short pause by the Philosopher's Road where Chris explained to us the route of the day we left the paved roads and started climbing up the mountain. We were really lucky with the weather; it had been raining for a couple of days but fortunately the Saturday morning sky was clear and blue. 
On the way up to Hieizan you pass a couple of smaller shrines
A sign that has almost been consumed by a tree
A torii in the middle of the forest
A Japanese guy enjoying the view of Kyoto
There were also quite a lot of Japanese people walking in the mountains, and it seems like a popular route also for joggers..!
It did not take us more than two-three hours or so to reach the top of Hieizan. And it was not really that hard a climb either, but that might be because my last mountain trip was a 3-day long trekking trip through the mountains in Bolivia.. Anyway, only a few parts of the path are steep; most of it is relatively flat.
Group picture more or less at the top of the mountain.
Some previous Japanese visitors had left wooden plates with messages in one of the trees.
At the top of Hieizan there used to be a ski resort. Now the once so nice resort is quite dilapidated, since no one has used the buildings for years. 
Snowy trees at the top of Hieizan
Nice view!
Japanese stone sculptures
Hieizan also has a temple area called Enryaku-ji (延暦寺), which dates back to the earlier years of the Heian period. There are a lot of temples in this area, but we only stopped by a couple of them on the way to the funicular going down from on the other side of the mountain. Anyway, here are some of the pictures I snapped on the way:
The ordination hall, called Kaidan-in (戒壇院)
Close-up of the entrance to the ordination hall.
The Amida Hall (阿弥陀堂)
A small dragon fountain in the temple area
A map of the Enryaku-ji temple area. As you can see there are quite a lot of interesting buildings here. 
We walked through the temple area to the other side of Hieizan, where Japans longest funicular line takes you down from Enryaku-ji to the base of the Shiga side of the mountain. This funicular is known as the Sakamoto (坂本) Cable, or as the Hieizan Railway Line (比叡山鉄道線). The ride down costs 840 yen, and once you are down you can either walk for about 20 minutes or take a bus to get to the nearest JR station (Hiei Sakamoto Station). From there it is both quite fast and easy to get to Kyoto Station; it costs 320 yen and takes about 15 minutes.
In other words; wether you want to climb up the mountain or not, you still have the chance to take the trip up to take a look at the temple area of Enryaku-ji without getting sweaty, and either way I'm sure it will make a nice day trip.
View from Hieizan towards lake Biwako
The funicular of the Sakamoto-line 
福, the sign for "luck".
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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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