Highlights of Eikando Temple, Kyoto's Best View of Autumn Foliage. Information on Viewing Hours and Light-up.

Highlights of Eikando Temple, Kyoto's Best View of Autumn Foliage. Information on Viewing Hours and Light-up.

About Eikando Temple

Eikando is located in Higashiyama, Kyoto. The official name of the temple is Zenrin-ji Temple, and it is the head temple of the Nishiyama Zenrin-ji branch of the Jodo sect of Buddhism.
It stores many temple treasures, including a statue of Amida Nyorai "Mikaeri Amida" (Amitabha Looking Back), and a National Treasure, a silk-colored painting of Amida (Amida over the mountains). Eikando has a long history, dating back to the early Heian period (794-1192), about 1,000 years ago, when it was founded by Shinshao, a disciple of Kobo Daishi.

Since its construction, the temple has been called "Eikando of maple trees" by many cultural figures, and the beauty of its autumn foliage is so magnificent that it is even mentioned in the Kokin Wakashu, a collection of waka poems.
In this article, we will provide information on the autumn foliage at Eikando, one of the most popular places in Kyoto, as well as tips on when the leaves are at their best, where to see them, and how to avoid crowds.

Check it out! Two must-see spots at Eikando

The autumn leaves at Eikando usually begin to change color around mid-November and are at their best around the end of November.
The beautiful scenery can be seen from anywhere in 360 degrees, transforming you into a magical world of autumn leaves.

(1) Maple leaves reflected in the Hojo Pond and the Gokuraku Bridge

Eikando's most famous autumnal scenery is Hojo Pond. Maples are planted around the pond, and you can enjoy the scenic view of the upside-down maple trees and the Gokuraku Bridge reflected on the surface of the water.
Hojo Pond
  • Hojo Pond
  • Hojo Pond

(2) View of the Kyoto city from the Tahoto pagoda surrounded by autumn leaves

Another must-see is the Tahoto pagoda, which is located at the highest point of the temple grounds.
Also, if you climb up to the Tahoto pagoda from the side of the Mikage path, you will have a wonderful view overlooking the autumn leaves in the precincts of the temple. You can also enjoy a panoramic view of the Kyoto cityscape and Hidari Daimonji - a character for a giant bonfire.
Tahoto Pagoda
  • Tahoto Pagoda
  • Tahoto Pagoda

The crowds are inevitable!? Eikando Hours and Light-up Information

Eikando's Fall Special Viewing is on a day/night changeover basis. Please note that it is not possible to remain in Eikando all day. A separate entrance fee is also required to re-enter Eikando.

|Regular viewing hours

Regular viewing hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The reception desk closes at 4:00 pm. The autumn leaves shining in the sunlight are different from the lit-up ones. Word of mouth says that you can avoid crowds if you visit the temple right after the gate opens, so why not get up early?

|Autumn Foliage Light-up Period

Autumn foliage lighting will take place from November 5 to December 4, 17:30 to 21:00. Registration will close at 20:30.
The lights create a different atmosphere than during the daytime. Recently, the number of foreign tourists has been increasing rapidly, and crowds are inevitable (before corona of course). Please be prepared to wait 30 minutes to an hour, and plan accordingly.
The time is just before closing is slightly less crowded.

How to get to Eikando

Access by Kyoto City Bus and Subway.
There are two ways to use the Kyoto City Bus

①From JR Kyoto Station, take the No. 5 bus passing through Shijo Kawaramachi and Kawaramachi Sanjo, and get off at Nanzenji Eikando-do stop, then walk for 3 minutes.
②JFrom R Kyoto station, take the 100 number bus that goes around Gion, Okazaki, Ginkakuji, and other major sightseeing spots, get off at "Higashitennocho", and walk for 8 minutes.

Reaching Eikando by a bus while touring various sightseeing spots is pleasant, but it is also the most crowded time of the year in Kyoto, as tourists from all over the world flock to the area during the autumn foliage season. We recommend taking the subway to avoid traffic jams.

To get there by subway from Kyoto Station, take the Karasuma Line and transfer to the Tozai Line at Karasuma Oike Station to Keage Station. From Exit 1 of Keage Station, go through the incline tunnel and follow the road to reach Eikando in about 15 minutes.
The path is a bit complicated, but you will not get lost because there are many signs to guide you and many people heading to Eikando.

Recommended spots around Eikando

  • Nanzen-ji Temple
  • Nanzen-ji Temple

|Nanzen-ji Temple

There are many places around Eikando where you can enjoy the autumn leaves.
First, we would like to introduce Nanzenji Temple, the main temple of the Nanzenji School of Rinzai Sect of Zen Buddhism.
There is a retro waterway pavilion with beautiful brick arches of the Lake Biwa Canal on the south side of the temple, and the huge Sanmon Gate, where Ishikawa Goemon, the Japanese "Robin Hood" thief, loved the view and left the famous line, "Great view, great view" (Zekkei kana, zekkei kana).
The view from the top of the temple is just spectacular! It's only about a 10-minute walk from Eikando, so we highly recommend stopping by!
  • Philosopher's Path (Tetsugaku No Michi)
  • Philosopher's Path (Tetsugaku No Michi)

|Philosopher's Path (Tetsugaku No Michi)

Philosopher's Path, a short walk from Eikando, is also a must-visit place for autumn foliage.
If you walk along the road from Eikando, you can also reach Ginkakuji in about 30 minutes. Walking along the Philosopher's Path under the endless autumn leaves is different from walking under the cherry blossoms in spring, and is highly recommended.
In addition to these, there are many other places famous for their autumn foliage in the Higashiyama area. Please visit Eikando Hall as well as other places famous for beautiful autumn foliage in Kyoto.

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