Eikando (ëiŐ¤ô░, Eikandō), formally known as Zenrinji Temple, belongs to the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism. Located north 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"). When originally founded, Zenrinji belonged to 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.
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 a 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 evenings for special illuminations.
Getting there and around
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 and a five minute walk from Nanzenji Temple.
Hours and Fees
Autumn illuminations: 17:30 to 21:00 (entry until 20:30) from early November to early December (see our Kyoto autumn color page for details)
Questions? Ask in our forum.
Links and Resources
Hotels around Kyoto
Ryokan Mugen (Adult Only)Mugen is a property that was built 160 years ago, situated in Kyoto, 1 km from Nijo Castle. Every room at Mugen features an en suite shower room, toilet, free toiletries and a hairdryer. Free WiFi is available throughout the entire property. You will find a shared lounge on site and a bar at the annex building. The ryokan also offers bike hire. Imperial Palace is 1.1 km from Mugen, while Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is 1.6 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.View on Booking.com
Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASSLocated in Kyoto, this traditional Japanese guest house features free Wi-Fi and a free public computer. Shichijo Onmae bus stop is 3 minutesüf walk away. A seating area and shared bathroom are provided with each room at Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS. Free toiletries are provided and blankets are available upon request. Select rooms have a garden view. A shared living area and bicycles are available for guestsüf use during their stay at this Kyoto Guesthouse Compass. Access to the shared kitchen is available upon request. The guest house is 4.5 km from Imperial Palace and 2.2 km from Kyoto Station. Nijo Castle and Toji Castle are within a 30 minutesüf bus ride away.View on Booking.com
Ryokan ToriRyokan Tori is located in Kyoto, 2 km from Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. The property is around 2.3 km from Nijo Castle and Kyoto Imperial Palace. The property is 3.2 km from Kinkaku-ji Temple and 3.7 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum. All guest rooms in the ryokan are fitted with a kettle. Each room has a shared bathroom, while selected rooms are fitted with a balcony and others also offer a garden view. All rooms will provide guests with a fridge. Guests at tori can enjoy an Asian breakfast. Heian Shrine is 5 km from the accommodation. Itami Airport is 50 km from the property.View on Booking.com
Guesthouse EngawaGuesthouse Engawa offers accommodation in Kyoto. Guests can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of Kyoto in their rooms. Each comes with a flat-screen TV, and an electric kettle will be provided upon request. Bathroom facilities are shared with other guests. Free toiletries and hairdryers are also available. There is luggage storage space at the property. Kiyomizu-dera Temple is 600 metres from Guesthouse Engawa, while Heian Shrine is 2.4 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.View on Booking.com
Gallery Nozawa InnGallery Nozawa Inn offers accommodation in Kyoto, 25 minutes on foot from JR Kyoto Station. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Every room includes a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. Each room is equipped with a private toilet, and bathrooms are shared. For your comfort, you will find free toiletries and a hairdryer. There is luggage storage space at the property. Guests can sample Japanese-style breakfast featuring seasonal ingredients. There is a public bathhouse located a 10-minute walk away. Nijo Castle is 2.4 km from Gallery Nozawa Inn, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.4 km from the property. Osaka Itami Airport is 36 km away.View on Booking.com
Kyonoyado GekkoanSet in the Nakagyo Ward district in Kyoto, Kyonoyado Gekkoan offers an equipped accommodation with an balcony and free WiFi. The property is 1.1 km from Nijo Castle. This holiday home comes with a kitchenette with a microwave and a toaster, a flat-screen TV, a seating area and a bathroom with a bath. A vegetarian or continental breakfast is available daily at the property. Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.1 km from the holiday home. Osaka Itami Airport is 37 km from the property.View on Booking.com
Kyono Mori YurinshaFeaturing 3-star accommodation, Kyono Mori Yurinsha is set in Kyoto, 1.7 km from Sanjusangen-do Temple and 1 km from Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, room service and luggage storage space, along with free WiFi. The property is 1.1 km from Gion Shijo Station, and within 1.7 km of the city centre. All guest rooms come with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a fridge, a kettle, a shower, free toiletries and a desk. Featuring a private bathroom with a bath and a hairdryer, rooms at the inn also have a city view. At Kyono Mori Yurinsha all rooms have bed linen and towels. An ? la carte, continental or vegetarian breakfast can be enjoyed at the property. The accommodation provides an ironing service, as well as business facilities like fax and photocopying. Popular points of interest near Kyono Mori Yurinsha include Kiyomizu-dera Temple, TKP Garden City Kyoto and Samurai Kembu Kyoto. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 45 km from the inn.View on Booking.com
Yado KiramachiFeaturing a garden, a terrace as well as a bar, Yado Kiramachi is set in the centre of Kyoto, 600 metres from Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall. The property is around 1.6 km from Gion Shijo Station, 2.1 km from Nijo Castle and 2.2 km from Kyoto Station. The property is non-smoking and is located 1.3 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum. Featuring a private bathroom, rooms at the ryokan also have free WiFi, while selected rooms will provide you with a balcony. An Asian breakfast is available every morning at Yado Kiramachi. TKP Garden City Kyoto is 2.3 km from the accommodation, while Samurai Kembu Kyoto is 2.5 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 45 km from Yado Kiramachi.View on Booking.com
Guest House OumiWell set in the centre of Kyoto, Guest House Oumi provides air-conditioned rooms, a garden, free WiFi and a shared lounge. This 2-star guest house offers a shared kitchen and room service. The property is non-smoking and is located 1.2 km from Nijo Castle. All units include a shared bathroom, free toiletries and bed linen. A continental breakfast is available daily at the guest house. Guest House Oumi offers a terrace. Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.2 km from the accommodation, while Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall is 2.9 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 46 km from Guest House Oumi.View on Booking.com
Hotel MusoWell located in Kyoto, Hotel Muso provides 3-star accommodation close to Gion Shijo Station and Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall. This 3-star hotel offers a concierge service and luggage storage space. Providing free WiFi throughout the property, the non-smoking hotel features a hot tub. The hotel will provide guests with air-conditioned rooms with a desk, a coffee machine, a fridge, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a bidet. Rooms come with a kettle, while selected rooms come with a kitchen with a microwave, a minibar and a stovetop. At Hotel Muso each room has bed linen and towels. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Sanjusangen-do Temple, Samurai Kembu Kyoto and Kiyomizu-dera Temple. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 45 km from Hotel Muso.View on Booking.com