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The Tahoto Pagoda on the hillside of Eikando

Eikando (iϓ, Eikandō), formally known as Zenrinji Temple, belongs to the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism. Located just north of the large temple complex of Nanzenji, Eikando is very famous for its autumn colors and the evening illuminations that take place in fall. The temple has a long history, and there are a variety of buildings and a pond garden that visitors can explore.

A court noble of the Heian Period (710-1185) donated his villa to a priest, who converted it into a temple under the name Zenrinji (lit. "temple in a calm grove"). At its founding, Zenrinji was part of the Shingon sect and its first head priest was a disciple of the great Kobo Daishi, the sect's founder.

In the 11th century, Zenrinji had a popular head priest named Eikan, after whom the temple is popularly named Eikando (lit. "Eikan Hall"). Eikan is credited with acquiring the temple's main object of worship, an unusual statue of the Amida Buddha with his head turned sidewards. According to legend, Eikan was walking through the temple one day, when the statue, which was originally facing forward, turned its head towards the priest and talked to him.

In the 13th century, a later head priest converted the temple to the Jodo sect (Pure Land sect), as he had been greatly impressed by the sect's founder Honen, whose mausoleum is located at the nearby Chionin Temple.

The Hojo Pond during the autumn illumination

Eikando's main buildings are built alongside the base of the hillside and are connected by wooden corridors. The first building that visitors enter is the Shakado (Hall of the historical Buddha) with a small rock garden and beautifully painted sliding doors (fusuma). Walking through the corridors, visitors also pass by the Miedo which enshrines the Jodo sect's founder Honen and the Amidado (Amida Hall) which houses the temple's principal object of worship, the sideward facing Amida statue.

Eikando's most recognizable building, however, is its Tahoto Pagoda, which is nestled in the trees on the hillside above the temple's other buildings. Tahoto style pagoda are two story structures, whose first stories are square and second stories are round. Visitors can walk up to the pagoda, from where the rest of the temple grounds and the city of Kyoto can be seen. The view from the pagoda is particularly attractive in autumn, when the maple trees of the temple grounds are changing colors.

Another attractive spot during the fall is the Hojo Pond, around which an attractive garden has been cultivated. Small streams run through the temple grounds and connect to this main pond, at the center of which is a small shrine on an island. Autumn colors are usually best in the second half of November, when the temple is opened in the evening for special illuminations.

Eikando's temple complex nestled among the trees, as seen from the tahoto pagoda

Access

Eikando is a 15-20 minute walk from the nearest subway station, Keage Station on the Tozai Line (20 minutes, 260 yen by subway from Kyoto Station via Karasuma-Oike), or a five minute walk from the nearest bus stop, Nanzenji-Eikando-michi bus stop (35 minutes, 230 yen from Kyoto Station by Kyoto City Bus number 5).

Eikando is also near the southern end of the Philosopher's Path.

How to get to and around Kyoto

Hours & Fees

Hours

9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:00); special evening hours during autumn illuminations

Closed

No closing days

Admission

600 yen (autumn daytime: 1000 yen, autumn nighttime: 600 yen)

Hotels around Kyoto

Recommended Hotels
Backpackers Hostel Ks House Kyoto
One of Kyoto's most popular hostels. A ten minute walk from Kyoto Station.
Book:
Agoda Booking
Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Located inside Kyoto Station, this is Kyoto's most convenient 4-star hotel.
Book:
Agoda Booking
Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel
Elegant luxury hotel located near Sanjusangendo Temple.
Book:
Agoda Booking
Khaosan Kyoto Guest House
Cheap and popular hostel located in the heart of the city near Kawaramachi Station.
Book:
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New Miyako Hotel Kyoto
Reasonably priced 3-star hotel located just across the street from Kyoto Station.
Book:
Agoda Booking
Royal Park Hotel The Kyoto
Modern hotel along Sanjo Street close to Pontocho and other dining options.
Book:
Agoda Booking

Tours and Experiences

Page last updated: January 11, 2017