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Eikando Temple: History, Significance And Everything You Else You Need To Know

Eikando Temple

Is visiting Eikando temple worth the visit? Learn all about Eikando temple here! 

Nestled amidst Kyoto’s heart, Eikando Temple (Zenrinji Temple) whispers tales of history and serenity. 

Renowned for its jaw-dropping autumn foliage, this Jodo-shu Buddhist haven transcends seasons with its peaceful aura and captivating sights. Explore the iconic Tahoto Pagoda, wander through mesmerizing gardens, and encounter serene Jizo statues. 

Whether seeking spiritual solace or cultural immersion, Eikando promises an unforgettable journey. 

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Join us as we delve into its enchanting depths, guiding you through must-see highlights and practical tips for a fulfilling visit.

Guide to Eikando Temple

History and Significance Of Eikando Temple

Eikando, originally named Zenrinji, whispers stories dating back to the 9th century. Founded by Shinjo, a prominent disciple of the revered Kobo Daishi, the temple initially embraced the Shingon sect’s esoteric practices. 

Later, it transitioned to the Pure Land teachings of Jodo-shu under the influence of Yokan, a beloved and influential priest. 

Yokan, affectionately known as Eikan (hence the temple’s popular name), is credited with shaping Eikando’s compassionate spirit, dedicating himself to the sick and impoverished.

This shift towards Jodo-shu’s Amida Buddha devotion became central to Eikando’s identity. The renowned “Turning Amida” statue embodies this philosophy, beckoning all towards peaceful rebirth in the Pure Land. 

Throughout its history, Eikando flourished as a center of Buddhist scholarship and artistic expression. Its tranquil surroundings fostered contemplation and attracted prominent figures like Emperor Juntoku and renowned painter Soga Jasoku. 

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Even amidst historical upheavals, including the devastating Onin War, Eikando persevered, rebuilding its structures and carrying forward its legacy of spiritual solace.

Today, Eikando stands as a testament to its rich history, reflecting the evolution of Japanese Buddhism and the enduring power of faith. 

Whether contemplating the ancient wisdom housed within its walls or simply basking in the serene atmosphere, visitors can glimpse into the enduring values that have shaped this captivating temple for over a millennium.

Must-See Highlights In Eikando Temple

Eikando’s allure lies not just in its history, but in the breathtaking sights and experiences it offers. Prepare to be captivated by:

The Tahoto Pagoda

This iconic two-story structure, perched on a hillside, is the temple’s crown jewel. Its unique architecture, with a square first floor and a circular second, embodies the harmony between earthly and celestial realms. 

Ascend the pagoda’s stairs, and be rewarded with panoramic vistas of the temple grounds and the vibrant city beyond.

Fall Foliage Extravaganza

If you visit in autumn, prepare to be mesmerized by a spectacle of nature’s artistry. Maple leaves ablaze in fiery reds, oranges, and yellows transform the temple grounds into a breathtaking tapestry. 

Special evening illuminations during this season create a truly magical atmosphere, highlighting the vibrant foliage and casting an ethereal glow on the pagoda. Aim for late November to mid-December for the peak display.

Serene Jizo Statues

Scattered throughout the temple grounds, you’ll encounter rows of Jizo statues, each holding a child. 

These compassionate bodhisattvas are said to watch over the souls of deceased children, offering solace and guidance. Take a moment to appreciate their peaceful expressions and the quiet reverence they inspire.

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Hojo Pond Garden

Seek tranquility at the Hojo Pond Garden, a haven of serene beauty. Stroll along the meandering paths, admire the carefully placed rocks and sculpted pines, and let the gentle sound of the water lull you into a state of calm. This serene haven embodies the principles of Zen Buddhism, inviting reflection and inner peace.

Architectural Treasures

Beyond these iconic highlights, Eikando boasts other captivating structures. The Amida Hall houses the revered “Turning Amida” statue, while the Founder’s Hall offers a glimpse into the temple’s early history. 

Explore these additional structures to deepen your understanding of Eikando’s multifaceted legacy.

Planning Your Visit TO Eikando Temple

Finding Your Way:

  • Location: Eikando is located at 48 Eikando-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto.
  • Accessibility: The nearest bus stop is Nanzenji-Eikando-michi, a 3-minute walk from the temple. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or walk from nearby attractions like Nanzenji Temple or the Philosopher’s Path.

Opening the Gates to Tranquility:

  • Opening Hours: Eikando is generally open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, with the last entry at 4:00 PM. However, during the autumn illumination period (late November to mid-December), the temple opens from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM.
  • Admission Fees: The standard admission fee is 600 JPY for adults and 400 JPY for children (ages 6-18). During autumn illuminations, the fee increases to 1000 JPY for adults and 800 JPY for children in the daytime and 600 JPY for both during the evening illuminations.
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Respectful Etiquette:

  • Dress modestly, covering shoulders and knees.
  • Remove shoes before entering the temple halls.
  • Maintain silence and refrain from using mobile phones inside the buildings.
  • Be mindful of other visitors and respect the peaceful atmosphere.

Beyond Eikando:

  • Nearby Attractions: Explore Nanzenji Temple, its serene gardens, and the iconic Zen canal. Immerse yourself in the philosophical musings along the Philosopher’s Path.
  • Food and Shopping: Discover charming cafes and restaurants in the Gion district, or 

browse traditional souvenirs in the nearby streets.

Pro Tip: Purchase a Kyoto City Pass for discounted entry to Eikando and other participating attractions, making your sightseeing journey more economical.

Conclusion

Eikando whispers tales of history, ignites autumnal wonder, and offers a haven for serenity. 

From the majestic Tahoto Pagoda to the compassionate Jizo statues, each experience unveils a facet of its rich tapestry. 

Whether seeking spiritual solace, cultural immersion, or simply breathtaking beauty, Eikando beckons you to embark on a journey of tranquility. 

Come, discover its whispers, and create your own unforgettable memories within its tranquil embrace.

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