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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

History

Enkoji Temple 圓光寺

Zen serenity, autumn fire, and musical ornaments at one of Kyoto's best-kept temple secrets

A stone's throw from Shugakuin Imperial Villa in the northeast of Kyoto, Enko-ji should be on your schedule for its autumn foliage, impressive gardens and scenic location.

Quick Facts

The temple belongs to the Rinzai Zen sect of Buddhism

It was once a school that was open to the general public

You can get a bird's-eye view of Enko-ji by climbing the hill behind the temple garden

How to Get There

The temple grounds are easily accessible on foot from Shugakuin or Ichijoji stations.

From Kyoto Station, catch the JR Nara Line to Tofukuji Station, and then transfer to the Keihan Main Line to Demachiyanagi Station. From there, ride the Eizan Railway to Ichijoji Station. You can also take the number five bus from Kyoto Station all the way to the Ichijoji Sagarimatsucho bus stop.

A liberal past

The temple was founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu in the 1600s as the Rakuyo School and became known as a uniquely open-minded place of learning, welcoming both laity and clergy.

It also attracted an unconventional crowd of artists and writers. Later it became a seminary for women, always keeping its doors open to all.

Unique garden ornaments

Enko-ji is famous for the suikinkutsu, a musical ornament often found in traditional Japanese gardens. A pot is buried upside down in the ground and water collects within it through a hole in its top. When more water drops onto the surface of the water, a calming bell sound is emitted, adding to the Zen atmosphere of the temple.

Bamboo forest

If Arashiyama's bamboo forest is too crowded for your liking, Enko-ji's smaller bamboo forest may be just right for you. It's located just behind the garden's quaint pond.

Rock gardens

Enko-ji also features two impressive rock gardens. Honryu-tei, or Running Dragon, is quite unusual as sharp rocks jut out of the sand at various angles to symbolize a flying dragon. The other is filled with maples that transform the area into a fiery field of red and orange during autumn. A small hill behind the temple affords a grand view of the mountains of Kyoto.

Going further

While you're in the neighborhood, visit nearby Shisen-do, a serene Buddhist temple of the Soto Zen sect. It was built in the 1600s and considered a masterpiece of its time.

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