Eikan-do (Zenrin-ji Temple,location,history)

Eikan-do, Zenrin-ji Temple

The information about Eikan-do is presented here. Amida Nyorai (Important Cultural Property) housed at Amidado is said to be a “Mikaeri Amida” with its face turned to the left in a unique pose. Amida Nyorai is 77.6 cm tall and is said to have been created in the late 12th century during the late Heian period (794-1185) to early Kamakura period (1185-1333) .

【Eikan-do Location Map & Directions】

Address: 48 Eikando-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Access (How to get there): Nanzenji-eikando-michi bus stop (about 5 minutes on foot), Higashitennocho bus stop (about 7 minutes on foot), Miyanomaecho bus stop (about 7 minutes on foot), Subway Keage Station (about 15 minutes on foot)

【Opening Hours & Closed (confirmation required)】

Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00 (Registration closes at 16:00)
Closed: open year round

【Entrance Fees & Tickets (confirmation required)】

Individual: Adults 600 yen, High School, Junior High School and Elementary School Students 400 yen

【Eikan-do History】

The site of Eikan-do (永観堂, Zenrin-ji Temple, 禅林寺) is built was the site of the Higashiyama villa of Fujiwara no Sekio, who was Jibu-no-Sho and head of the Sai-in in the Heian period (794-1185) and was called “Higashiyama Shinshi”. Fujiwara no Sekio was born in 805 as the 5th son of Fujiwara no Manatsu. In 825, he passed an examination to become a monjosho, but he preferred to retire and did not serve, and he was always stayed at the Higashiyama villa, and he was called “Higashiyama Shinshi” because he indulged in forest and spring. Eikan-do (Zenrin-ji Temple) is said to have been founded in 853, when Shinjo, a disciple of Kobo-daishi Kukai, the founder of the Shingon sect, purchased the ruins of the Higashiyama villa of Fujiwara no Sekio and housed the statue of Gochi Nyorai. In 863, the 56th Emperor Seiwa granted the temple the imperial inscription “Zenrinji” as a dojo for the protection of the nation. In 868, Shinjo established the Zenrinji-shiki jugokajo (the 15 articles of the Zenrinji style). In 877, the 57th Emperor Yozei granted the four towns in Atago District, Yamashiro Province, and built Butsuden to become a imperial temple. In 1072, Yokan (Eikan) built the Tonan-in in Eikan-do. During the Joryaku period (1077-1081), Yokan (Eikan) transformed Eikan-do into a Jodo nenbutsu dojo, and Amida Nyorai became its main deity. In 1082, Yokan (Eikan) sensed the mikaeri aspect of Amida Nyorai during the nenbutsu gyodo. In 1190, Shoku, the founder of the Nishiyama school of the Jodo sect, became a disciple of Honen, the founder of the Jodo sect and became the 13th head monk of Eikan-do. In 1198, Minamoto no Yoritomo, the 1st shogun of the Kamakura shogunate, visited Eikan-do and donated the “”Daihannya-kyo (Daihannya Sutra)”. In 1253, Joon, a disciple of Shoku, became the 17th head monk of Eikan-do, and Eikan-do later became the main temple of the Jodo sect.
It is said that in 1264, the 88th Emperor Go-Saga began the construction of the Zenrinji-dono villa, and Eikan-do gave the southern part of its grounds to the Zenrinji-dono villa. The Zenrinji-dono villa was later renamed Nanzen-ji Temple. In the middle of the Muromachi period (1336-1573), most of the temple buildings were destroyed by fires during the Onin War (1467-1477). It is said that the 103rd Emperor Go-Tsuchimikado built Mieido after 1472, and the 104th Emperor Go-Kashiwabara built Shakado (Hojo) and other buildings during the Eisho period (1504-1520). In 1504, Garyuro was built, and in 1560, Eikan-do received the permission to establish Kangakuin. In 1596, Bonsho (bell) was cast and Shoro (bell tower) was built. Danrin (school) was established around this time. In 1597, Kuri was rebuilt. In 1600, Hondo (Mieido) was built. In 1615, Tokugawa Ieyasu, the 1st shogun of the Edo shogunate, granted Eikan-do Jodo-syu Nishiyama-ha Shohato, temple territory, syuin. In 1764, Sobyodo was rebuilt and in 1828, Kodo was rebuilt. In 1870, the Nishiyama school and the Chinzei school were united, but in 1876, the Nishiyama school and the Chinzei school split off and became the four head temples: Komyo-ji Temple and Eikan-do for the Nishitani school and Seigan-ji Temple and Enpuku-ji Temple for the Fukakusa school.
*reference・・・Eikan-do website

【Eikan-do Highlights (May be undisclosed)】

★Amidado (阿弥陀堂) was built in 1597 as Mandado of Shitenno-ji Temple in Osaka, and was moved in 1607 by Toyotomi Hideyori, the son of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Amidado houses the main statue of Amida Nyorai (Important Cultural Property). The ceiling of Amidado is decorated with “Hyakka-zu (Hundred Flowers Diagram)” paintings in rich colors.
★Hojo (方丈) is said to have been built in 1627. According to temple legend, Hojo was built by the 104th Emperor Go-Kashiwabara during the Eisho period (1504-1521). Hojo houses the statue of Shaka Sanzon, and is called Shakado.
★Kara-mon Gate (唐門) was rebuilt in 1830. According to temple legend, Kara-mon Gate was rebuilt in 1811. Kara-mon Gate has a baku design on its kibana, and is decorated with carvings of unryu (cloud dragon) and karakusa (arabesque). Kara-mon Gate is currently only used when the head monk dies.
★Mieido (御影堂) was built in 1912. Mieido enshrines Honen, the founder of the Jodo sect, on the Shumidan in the nai-jin (inner sanctum), and is known as Soshido. Mieido is the largest building on the temple grounds, larger than Amidado (Hondo), and is called “Tai-den”.
永観堂見どころ (Eikan-do Highlights)

【Events (confirmation required)】

★Hatsu Roku Amida Meguri (初六阿弥陀巡り) is held every year on January 15th. In Hatsu Roku Amida Meguri, on a different merit day for each month, visitors come to Shinnyodo Temple (No. 1), Eikan-do (No. 2), Kiyomizu-dera Temple Amidado (No. 3), Anjo-in Temple (No. 4), Anyo-ji Temple (No. 5), and Seigan-ji Temple (No. 6), and continue for three years and three months, visitors will enjoy the benefits of no illness and disaster, prosperity of family fortune, and the fulfillment of prayers.

【永観堂 花暦(梅・桜・紅葉・・・)】
★The best time to see autumn leaves (紅葉) is from mid-November to late November. About 3,000 maple trees and other plants are distributed along the shores of Hojo-chi Pond and others. There are Iwagaki Momiji (maple trees) on the steep rock face behind Mieido. Eikan-do has long been said to be “Aki ha Momiji-no-Eikando (Eikan-do of the maple in autumn)”. Eikan-do is illuminated every year around the time of autumn leaves, and a special night viewing is held. (night illumination, 紅葉ライトアップ)
永観堂紅葉ライトアップ (Eikan-do night illumination)
(The best time to see the plants depends on the climate of the year.)

【Telephone (Please refrain from making phone calls.)】

Tel: +81-75-761-0007

【Recommended Walking Route】

The recommended walking route from Eikan-do is along Philosopher’s Path (Tetsugaku-no-Michi) to Ginkaku-ji Temple (Jisho-ji Temple). Ginkaku-ji Temple is listed as a World Heritage Site and has the Ginkaku and Togudo, which are designated as national treasures. Philosopher’s Path (Tetsugaku-no-Michi) is one of the most famous cherry blossom viewing spots in Kyoto, and during the cherry blossom season, visitors can enjoy walking along Philosopher’s Path (Tetsugaku-no-Michi) while viewing the cherry blossoms. Nanzen-ji Temple is located on the south side of Eikan-do, and its San-mon Gate and Suirokaku have become popular.

【Remarks(access, parking, disclaimer, etc)】
If you plan to visit Eikan-do, be sure to check the latest information.


  1. 錦市場(Nishiki Market)
  2. 竹林の道(Bamboo Forest Path)
  3. 嵐山