Eikan-do, famed for its vivid autumn foliage, is a Buddhist temple in Kyoto with historical roots in the 9th century. It is home to important cultural artifacts, including a distinctive statue of the Amida Buddha. The temple is nestled in beautiful gardens, offering visitors a peaceful experience steeped in traditional Japanese Buddhism.
Eikan-do Temple, also known as Zenrinji Temple, started as a noble’s villa before converting into a Buddhist temple in the 9th century. Located in the Northern Higashiyama district, Eikan-do serves as the head temple for the Seizan branch of the Jodo sect. It transitioned from Shingon to Jodo Buddhism in the 13th century with Priest Yōkan playing a pivotal role.
The architecture and cultural artifacts of the temple highlight its historical relevance. The main hall, Amidado, is a designated national treasure. A unique feature of the temple is the Mikaeri Amida, a statue of the Amida Buddha with an unconventional backward glance, signifying deep cultural significance.
During autumn, Eikan-do becomes a canvas of vibrant colors as the maple trees transform. The foliage reaches its peak beauty in November, accompanied by special evening illuminations. The Tahoto Pagoda and Hojo Pond provide exquisite views of the foliage against Kyoto’s landscape.
Visitors to Eikan-do can walk through its extensive grounds, enjoy the Zen gardens, and take in the views from the Tahoto Pagoda. Despite being busy in the peak season, the festive atmosphere and stunning scenery are compelling reasons to visit. Eikan-do is a place where one can engage with Japan’s rich history and culture while appreciating the serene autumn beauty.
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