Temples & Shrines: Eikando
Eikando Temple 永観堂
Eikando was in its earliest years a temple devoted to Esoteric Buddhism in the Shingon sect. In roughly 1225, though, Eikando converted to the Jodo sect.
Eikando Temple's history dates from the 9th century. In 853 AD, Shinjo (797-873), a high disciple of Kukai (774-835, also known as Kobo Daishi), built a temple on the grounds of where the current Eikando sits. In 863 AD, the Emperor Seiwa named it "Zenrin-ji," which means "Temple in a Calm Grove."
The most famous priest at the temple was one Yokan (1033-1111), who is better known as "Eikan." He devoted himself to the poor and infirm and the temple came to be known for him. Eikan rebuilt the temple on a bigger scale and added a hospital. A plum garden was planted to provide medicines from the fruit.
The temple was like much of Kyoto destroyed during the Onin War (1467-1477). It was restored by the beginning of the 16th century.
Today it is best known for its maple trees and fall foliage--and a magnificent 30 inch high statue known as the Turning Amida (Mikaeri Amida) in the Amida-do Hall. It is a stunning work, which has its head turned around towards the back. There is a good view of Kyoto city from the Taho Pagoda.
Eikando Temple is open 9 am to 5.30pm daily (last entrance is at 4 pm). 600 yen for adults.
Due north of Nanzenji Temple and close to Ginkaku-ji, Honen-in, Anraku-ji, Reigan-ji, Otoyo-jinja all along Philosopher's Walk.
By bicycle is a good way to get around the Higashiyama area of Kyoto.
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