Japan | Kyoto

Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji Temple

Japan Winter 2024

Kyoto | Japan

27 Feb 2024 | Tue

Day 08 of 17

  • Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion Kyoto
  • Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji Temple
  • Philosopher’s Path Walk Kyoto
  • Hōnen-in-Temple Kyoto
  • Ginkaku-ji Temple Kyoto
  • Yakitori Daikichi Kyoto

Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji Temple

After a wonderful visit to the Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, we hopped into a taxi for a 26-minute ride to the Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji Temple. The weather had turned a bit chilly, and upon entering the temple, we had to swap our shoes for the temple’s provided sandals.

Entrance to Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji Temple

This was a bit of a challenge for those with larger feet, like me, and I ended up touring the temple grounds in my socks. The historic sites, including this one, don’t have heating, so it can get quite cold, especially for your feet. The temple grounds were vast, with several interconnected buildings to explore. Finally, at the end, we were able to put our shoes back on, which was a relief for me. Despite the cold, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji Temple.

Beautiful Garden at Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji Temple

Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji (永観堂禅林寺) is the head temple for the Seizan branch of Japan’s Jōdo-shū (Pure Land) Buddhist sect, located in Kyoto, Sakyō-ku. It was founded by Shinshō, a pupil of Kūkai, and is famous for its fall foliage and for its prominence in the past as a center of learning.

Zenrin-ji has grown famous for its unusual statue of the Amida Buddha, which looks over its shoulder, rather than straight ahead. In Japanese this is called the Mikaeri Amida. According to tradition, at one point in 1082, when Yōkan was fifty, he and a number of monks were practicing a ritual, walking around the statue and reciting sutras when the statue of Amida came to life and stepped down from its dais. Yōkan halted the ritual in surprise; the Buddha looked over its shoulder at the monk, and said to him, “Yōkan you are slow”. Ever since then, goes the story, the posture of this statue has remained in that position. Alternate versions of the story involve the Buddha joining the monks in a ritual dance.

– Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji Temple > Wikipedia

Map | Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji Temple

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