Nowadays, most of the restaurants in Mt. Hiei are no longer vegetarian. The best place to head to for lunch is Enryakuji Kaikan (延暦寺会館) in the Tōtō area. It is also where you can spend a night at Enryakuji. The meals served in the restaurant on the second floor are all vegan. Not only is the food delicious, the restaurant also overlooks Japan’s biggest lake, Lake Biwa!
Table of Contents
- About Enryakuji Kaikan
- The Vegan Lunch Meals at Enryakuji Kaikan: Bōko (望湖)
- Enryakuji Kaikan’s Lounge Cafe: Reihō (れいほう)
- How to Make an Accommodation Reservation at Enryakuji Kaikan
About Enryakuji Kaikan
If you follow the slope and walk downhill from Monju-rō (文殊楼), you will reach Enryakuji Temple’s temple lodging building, Enryakuji Kaikan. Unlike many other temples in Japan, the temple’s visitor accommodation facility is like a hotel. It has a large lobby, a lounge cafe, many meeting rooms, and a restaurant on the second floor.
After a meal in the hotel’s observation restaurant, you can walk around the hotel’s first floor. Many meeting rooms are Japanese-style, with Buddhism-related items used as decor.
The Vegan Lunch Meals at Enryakuji Kaikan’s Restaurant: Bōko (望湖)
Set lunch menus are provided for individual customers at Enryakuji Kaikan. Depending on how hungry you are, you can choose between the Tofu Ankake-don (豆腐あんかけ丼), Udon-zen (うどん膳), Soba-zen (そば膳), and the most premium option, Hiei Gozen (比叡御膳).
The Hiei Gozen was one of the set menus we ordered. The small hot pot was perfect for a cold autumn day. While the side dishes are simple, they complimented well with the rice.
We also ordered the Tofu Ankake-don (the 4th photo in the IG post above). It is a tofu rice bowl covered with a large piece of tofu and topped with mushroom stew. The taste was phenomenal.
Refer to their website HERE for the current menu. As they don’t have an English website, you can translate the webpage using the Google Chrome’s transaction function at the right of the address bar.
After you have finished with your lunch, check out the hotel’s decorations on the second floor before heading back down! You can also see the Shoin from the floor-to-ceiling window close to the restroom (the 4th photo in the IG post to the right). The complex was used by the imperial family.
Enryakuji Kaikan’s Lounge Cafe: Reihō (れいほう)
Because Restaurant Bōko only serves set menus, you can visit the Tea Room Reihō downstairs for coffee and desserts. Just note that it isn’t a vegan cafe.
The most famous item on the menu is the Bonji Latte (梵字ラッテ). You can choose the Sanskrit character written on your drink. But which one to pick? You can either choose the one you like the most or the character associated with the guardian Buddha of your zodiac sign (refer to the 4th photo in the IG post). As the look-up table is in Japanese, let the staff know your zodiac sign, and she will tell you which character you should choose.
On weekends and public holidays, ensure you order the Bonji Tiramisu. Sadly, we went on a Monday and missed out on the popular dessert…
How to Make an Accommodation Reservation at Enryakuji Kaikan
Enryakuji Kaikan’s accommodation reservation can be made through their website HERE. If you are asked for a postcode, you can put in 000-0000, which means international or overseas.
Please refer to their website HERE for photos of their guestrooms.
Important: If you don’t want to shower in the public bathhouse, you must book their only Western-style room. Also, most rooms don’t come with a toilet facility.
Explore Mt. Hiei (比叡山)
Mt. Hiei or Hieizan (比叡山) is one of the Three Holiest Places in Japan. The worship halls and pagodas of the World Heritage Enryakuji Temple are scattered throughout the mountain. The temple, which is the headquarter of Japan’s Tendai sect, has nurtured well-respected monks in Japanese history.
To find out more about this sacred destination, please refer to our article on Mt. Hiei!