Mt Hiei & the temples of Enryaku-ji

Up to 5 Guests 6 Hours Private Guide Flexible itinerary

Gourmet guided hiking tour

* Journey by train and cable car to the summit of beautiful Mt Hiei * Explore the World Heritage listed temples of Enryaku-ji, spiritual home of the marathon monks * Enjoy delicious Shojin Ryori vegetarian temple cuisine overlooking Biwako, Japan's largest lake * Discover the area's deep connection with Japanese Buddhism and its role as guardian of Kyoto * Walk through lush old growth cedar forests looking for wild deer and monkeys * Soak up the stunning views back to Kyoto and of the surrounding mountains

Guardian of the ancient city of Kyoto, one time home of ‘warrior monks’ who would raid the city and revered base of Tendai Buddhism, Mt Hiei is one of the most important spiritual mountains in all of Japan. If we had to pick our favourite guided walk, this would be it!
Travelling first by train from central Kyoto and then cable car through pretty cedar and maple forests, our walk begins at an elevation of 700m on the upper slopes of the mountain. As we make our way along beautiful old growth forest trails to the summit, we will keep an eye out for the area’s noisy inhabitants, the Japanese macaque and other wildlife. On a clear day, the views north to Lake Biwa and back to the city are breathtaking! 
A short decent brings us to the first of Enryakuji’s World Heritage temples where we will learn about the area’s captivating history, unique spiritual practices and the role of the ‘marathon monks‘ who continue their 1,000 day physical quests for enlightenment to this day. This is also a great place to take lunch and options include delicious soba noodles from a restaurant whose origin dates back to the 18th century or Shojin Ryori, traditional Buddhist vegetarian cuisine unique to this part of Japan.
In the afternoon, we will continue our exploration of Enryakuji monastery to gain a deeper understanding of the key monks who once studied here and the influence they played in shaping both Japanese Buddhism and the country’s political landscape.
We finish by visiting some of the remote, quieter temples to the north, often which we may have all to ourselves, before making our way back to the cable car station and on to Kyoto.
* Please note – this tour operates from mid March until the end of November *


1 - 5 GUESTS
  • Accommodation meet and greet
  • Expert bilingual private guide
  • Unique World Heritage area
  • Local spots and hidden gems
  • Option to customise

  • The price does not include transportation or temple / garden fees for each guest and the guide 

  • We will give you an accurate estimate of these costs and any customised options at the time of confirmation 

  • Lunch is additional and we will happily recommend some options to suit tastes and dietary requirements

  • As this is a private walking tour, we can adjust the pace and length to suit but please let us know of any mobility issues

  • Please note our cancellation policy under ‘FAQs’ and we require all guests to have comprehensive travel insurance


"Chris took us up Mt Hiei and showed us the historical center of Buddhism in Japan. The temples were really interesting, the views and scenery spectacular. We were really happy we went with the Shojin Ryori lunch - a Buddhist vegetarian meal that was as much of a feast for the stomach as it was for the eyes. It was a well organized and relaxing hike filled with beautiful scenery and funny/interesting factoids. We were also extremely lucky as the sakura (cherry-blossom) trees were in full bloom at the top of the mountain - a month after Kyoto city - absolute stunning. I can warmly recommend this tour."
A Jarnkrok

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