In 966 visionary Buddhist Priest Shoku saw a celestial being in a cherry tree on this mountain (Himeji's highest). It inspired him to carve a statue of Kannon, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, out of the tree. The temple he built around it became a major training center for priests of the Tendai sect. Eight of Engyoji's buildings and seven of its Buddhist statues have been designated Important Cultural Properties.
In the olden days pilgrims had to climb the mountain; you can take the rope way up. A 15-minute stroll through the woods takes you to the main temple (Maniden
) where pilgrims from all over Japan have special scrolls stamped with the temple seal (Engyoji is one of 33 pilgrimage sites in western Japan).
Walk through ancient forests to the Jikido, which once served as lodgings for priests in training. With the Daikodo and Jogyodo, it creates a dramatic three-sided courtyard, as this panorama shows.
In 2003, Hollywood movie "The Last Samurai" was shot, and it has become a popular sightseeing spot on tours that visit movie sets.