Soul of the Garden

Images of Japan: Eikando Zenrin-ji, Kyoto

"The Temple of the Maples Leaves"

Located near Nanzen-ji along the famous "Philosopher's Walk" Eikando Zenrin-ji was, for us, a happy accident. We had not planned on touring this temple and its garden, but there it was, along our route. I am very glad that we stopped in. I especially love the way the temple complex ascends the hill behind it. Covered walkways snake their way up the hillside looking a bit like a dragon with tile "scales." The temple was founded in 853. In 863, the Emperor Seiwa named the temple "Zenrin-ji", meaning "Temple in a Peaceful Grove". Among the thousands of monks who received their training here was Yokan (1033-1111), who is commonly known as "Eikan", and is famous for his compassion and charity.  He built a hospital on the temple grounds and planted plum trees to help feed the poor. Today Eikando is a lovely place to linger when touring the Philosopher's Walk and must be especially beautiful in autumn when the maple leaves take on their color.


Temple roofline with supported pine, an artfully pruned crape myrtle, and maples.


A dry garden at Eikando. Note the raised checkerboard terrace of sand.


A little wider view.


A view of the Eikando temple compound ascending the hill.


A little closer.


Silk banners hanging from the eaves of the pavilion near the top of the hill above.


The walkways going up the hill.


Lantern by a pond.


Water basin.


Jizo statues, Eikando.

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