Eikan-do Zenrin-ji Temple, Kyoto

Eikan-do Zenrin-ji Temple, Kyoto (must see)

A perfect blend of tradition and modernization, this temple charges a fee, but is so well worth it. Don't let the understated exterior fool you – once inside, you will be blown away as you walk through passage after passage and climb higher and higher into the complex. Built into the hills, it definitely makes one feel a bit as though one is climbing up into a massive tree-house.

The scenery is fantastic, especially with fall foliage at peak! The Japanese maple and ginkgo have the full spectrum of yellow light to dark red-orange, and some almost purple (walk up to the two-story pagoda on top to get the full effect!). In the second half of November, these are highlighted to perfection by evening illumination, which transforms the landscape – thus greatly adding to the overall experience.

The temple's unique feature is the statue of the Amida Buddha – a designated Important Cultural Property of Japan that looks over its shoulder rather than – more conventionally – straight ahead. In 1082, while chanting the Nembutsu, Abbot Eikan had a vision – the statue came to life and beckoned him to "hurry up". The main icon enshrined in the upper temple commemorates this vision, and "Eikan-do" was added to "Zenrin-ji" in honor of the devout man.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful grounds no matter the time of year; however, if you are in Kyoto during the autumn foliage season, coming here either at night or day time is a must.

Tip:
Don't miss the small rest area building near the entrance, where visitors can sit on a bench looking out from a wide window acting as a picture frame.
Also keep an eye out for the 'suikinkutsu', a unique musical instrument that resonates when water is poured slowly into it.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm (entry until 4pm); special evening hours during autumn illuminations

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Kyoto. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Eikan-do Zenrin-ji Temple on Map

Sight Name: Eikan-do Zenrin-ji Temple
Sight Location: Kyoto, Japan (See walking tours in Kyoto)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Kyoto, Japan

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Create Your Own Walk in Kyoto

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
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