Eikando (Zenrinji Temple)

Kyoto’s Best Autumn Display and an Unusual Buddha


Kyoto, the cultural capital of japan, is known for its stunning autumn foliage and historical temples. One such temple that stands out for its brilliant fall display is Eikando. Located in central Higashiyama, Eikando offers a mesmerizing sight of vibrant red, orange, and yellow leaves during the autumn season. But Eikando is not just famous for its foliage; it is also home to an unusual Buddha statue that has captivated visitors for centuries. In this article, we will explore the history of Eikando, its notable features, and how to get there.

A Court Noble’s Former Villa

Eikando’s history dates back to the Heian period (794-1185) when it was a gift from a court noble to a Buddhist priest. Originally, it was a villa belonging to a nobleman who decided to donate it to the Buddhist priest in 853. The transformation of the villa into a temple marked the beginning of Eikando’s spiritual journey. The temple’s architecture and design reflect the fusion of worldly pursuits and spiritual enlightenment, creating a unique atmosphere that attracts visitors from all over the world.

An Unusual Pose for Buddha

One of the highlights of Eikando is its collection of art, with the most notable piece being a statue of the Amida Buddha. What sets this statue apart is its unusual pose – instead of facing forward like most Buddha statues, the Amida Buddha at Eikando has its head turned to one side. Legend has it that a head monk was performing a ritual for the statue when it miraculously turned its head to face him and spoke to him. This miraculous event has made the statue a symbol of divine intervention and spiritual connection for many visitors.

Climb to a Pagoda with a View

Another must-see feature of Eikando is the Taho-to Pagoda, located at the top of a steep flight of stairs within the temple complex. From the pagoda, visitors can enjoy a breathtaking view of the city below. The climb to the pagoda is not only physically rewarding but also spiritually uplifting, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the peaceful surroundings and reflect on the beauty of nature.

Hojo Pond and Scenic Garden

Eikando is also home to Hojo Pond, a serene body of water surrounded by a picturesque garden. The pond is the centerpiece of the temple’s landscape, and its tranquil atmosphere creates a sense of harmony and tranquility. In the middle of the pond, there is a small island with a charming shrine built on it. The combination of the pond, garden, and shrine creates a scene straight out of a traditional Japanese painting, making it a popular spot for photographers and nature enthusiasts.

How to Get There

Eikando is easily accessible by train from Kyoto Station. From the station, take the Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line to Karasuma Oike Station. From there, transfer to the Tozai Subway Line going towards Rokujizo and get off at Keage Station. It is just a 15-minute walk from Keage Station to Eikando. The temple’s location in central Higashiyama makes it convenient for visitors to explore other nearby attractions, such as the Philosopher’s Path and Kiyomizu-dera Temple.


Eikando is not just a temple; it is a place of spiritual contemplation, natural beauty, and cultural heritage. Its stunning autumn foliage, unusual Buddha statue, and peaceful surroundings make it a must-visit destination in Kyoto. Whether you are a nature lover, a history enthusiast, or a spiritual seeker, Eikando offers something for everyone. So, when you find yourself in Kyoto during the autumn season, make sure to include Eikando in your itinerary and witness the magic of nature and spirituality come together in perfect harmony.

[Source: https://www.japan.travel/en/spot/1091/]

Address And Maps Location:

48 Eikando-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu

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