Practicing silence on Mount Hiei near Kyoto, Japan

by Joshua J. McElwee

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KYOTO -- Mount Hiei, at just under 3,000 feet high, rests quietly to the northeast of the city here, with a road full of lazy switchbacks to take you to the top. It's history, though, has been somewhat boisterous.

Home of the monastery of Enryaku-ji, the mount saw the foundation of the Tendai sect of Buddhism sometime in the late eighth century. That sect, from which many other Buddhist sects see their foundation, became the dominant force in Japan for years.

The mount is also the location of an annual inter-religious meeting inspired by Pope John Paul II's 1986 meeting at Assisi, italy. This year's summit is to take place Aug. 4, with many religious leaders, including Bishop Paul Otsuka of the Kyoto diocese, scheduled to attend.

Amid the temples of Enryaku-ji, one finds a calm, prayerful atmosphere along with beautiful views of Japan's Kyoto and Shiga prefectures. During a visit this afternoon, I took some pictures, which you can see a sampling of in the slideshow below.

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