永観堂Eikando Temple, formerly known as 禅林寺Zenrin-ji Temple, is the head temple for the Seizan branch of Joudo Buddhism located in the town of Eikando in Sakyou-ku, Kyoto. Its founder, 真紹Shinshou, a Buddhist monk of the Shingon sect and pupil of 空海Kuukai, wanted a temple for the worship of the 五智如来Go-chi Nyorai (Five Great Buddhas). Although it started off devoted to the Shingon Buddhism in 863, it started to shift towards Joudo Buddhism due to 永観Youkan, the seventh head monk’s, influence.
Eikando Temple has a unique Buddha statue, みかえり阿弥陀Mikaeri Amida, that looks over his shoulder where (in other temples it looks straight ahead. The story goes that when Youkan was 50 years old in 1082, he and his disciples were walking around the Buddha and reciting sutras when the statue came to life and stepped down from his platform; its current position comes from addressing back to Youkan who had stopped mid-ritual at the incident.
Eikando Temple is most known for its fall foliage and when I went with Yukiko in early December 2008, it was 紅葉kouyou (leaves changing colors) at its best in the most perfect weather imaginable.
the fall foliage of Eikando Temple from outside
the view of 放生池Houjou Ike (Houjou Pond) after entering from the 中問nakamon (inner gate)
my favorite view of the visit
the view of a smaller pond from 釈迦堂Shaka-dou
the dry landscape garden and 唐門karamon in front of Shaka-dou
a closer look at the garden
the view of Shaka-dou and 千佛同Senbutsudou from 御影堂Miei-dou
水琴窟suikinkutsu (water-drop koto), a garden feature where if one gently pours water into an earthen jar with a hole to make sounds like a musical instrument, located between the foot of the 臥龍廊Garyuurou corridor and the corridor to the 阿弥陀堂Amida-dou where the Buddha statue is
view from Amida-dou
the 龍吐水ryutosui (dragon fountain) on our way to the main entrance
a closer look at the spout
Houjou Pond from the other side
a stream connected to Houjou Pond
beautiful canopy of leaves everywhere
a grove of trees with a carpet of fallen leaves
the main entrance on our way out