Eikando is especially famous for brilliant foliage in the fall, made more magical by evening illumations. This period draws huge crowds, but visit at any other time of year and you'll have the place to yourself, free to explore the grounds.
The temple is found just south of the Philosopher's Walk in central Higashiyama. Its grounds are expansive, with many buildings connected by covered walkways.
Eikando is easily accessed from JR Kyoto Station by train and a short walk.
From JR Kyoto Station, take the Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line to Karasuma Oike Station. Transfer there to the Tozai Subway Line going towards Rokujizo to Keage Station. It's a 15 minute walk from there.
Eikando was a gift from a court noble in the Heian Period (794-1185) to a Buddhist priest
The work to restore the Amida-do paintings at Eikando took more than 4 years to complete
Eikando is also known by three other names, Zenrin-ji, Shoju-raigo-san, and Muryosu-in
Eikando feels a bit like an old villa and was once exactly that, having belonged to a nobleman who gave it to a Buddhist priest in 853. The worldly pursuits of leisure and natural beauty would take on a spiritual dimension as the villa was adapted to its new purpose.
Eikando is filled with various works of art, the most notable of which is a statue of the Amida Buddha with his head turned to one side rather than facing forward, as he is usually portrayed. Legend has it that a head monk was performing a ritual for the statue when it turned its head to face him and spoke to him. Since then, the statue has been turned in this way.
The adventurous may wish to trade their shoes for slippers and walk up the steep flight of stairs to Taho-to Pagoda, which sits above the templex complex and offers a great view of the city below.
One highlight of Eikando is Hojo Pond, surrounded by a scenic garden. In the middle of the pond is a small island on which sits a quaint shrine.
For a leisurely visit to Eikando, plan to spend an hour or two there. You can easily spend longer, though, especially if you enjoy the aesthetic elements of Buddhism.