Zen serenity and musical ornaments at one of Kyoto’s lesser-known temples
When visiting Kyoto, most tourists flock to the famous temples such as Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu-dera. However, there are hidden gems in the city that offer a more serene and intimate experience. One such temple is Enkoji Temple, located in the northeast of Kyoto near the Shugakuin Imperial Villa. With its impressive gardens, scenic location, and autumn foliage, Enkoji Temple is a must-visit destination for those seeking tranquility and beauty.
Enkoji Temple belongs to the Rinzai Zen sect of Buddhism, which is known for its focus on meditation and self-discipline. The temple was founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu in the 1600s as the Rakuyo School, an open-minded place of learning. It attracted a diverse crowd of artists and writers, who were drawn to its liberal and inclusive atmosphere. Over the years, the temple has evolved and transformed into a seminary for women, further expanding its influence and impact in the community.
One of the highlights of Enkoji Temple is its unique garden ornaments, particularly the suikinkutsu. This musical ornament can often be found in traditional Japanese gardens and adds to the Zen atmosphere of the temple. The suikinkutsu consists of a pot buried upside down in the ground, with water collecting within it through a hole in its top. When more water drops onto the surface of the water, a calming bell sound is emitted, creating a soothing and peaceful ambiance. It is a perfect place for visitors to relax and meditate, surrounded by the harmonious sounds of nature.
Another enchanting feature of Enkoji Temple is its bamboo forest. While Arashiyama’s bamboo forest is a popular tourist spot and tends to be crowded, Enkoji Temple offers a smaller and more intimate bamboo forest located just behind the garden’s quaint pond. Walking through the bamboo grove, visitors can immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature and experience a sense of calm and serenity.
The temple also boasts two stunning rock gardens. The first is a picturesque garden centered on a pond called Jugyuno-tei. The pond reflects the surrounding trees and creates a serene and peaceful atmosphere. The second is a dry landscape garden called Honryu-tei, which is quite unusual and unique. Sharp rocks jut out of the sand at various angles, symbolizing a flying dragon. This garden is a visual representation of the power and energy of nature, and it is a sight to behold.
In addition to its natural beauty, Enkoji Temple offers a breathtaking view of the mountains of Kyoto. A small hill behind the temple provides a vantage point from which visitors can admire the scenic landscape and appreciate the harmony between man-made structures and the surrounding environment. It is a perfect spot for photography enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
To reach Enkoji Temple, visitors can easily access the temple grounds on foot from Shugakuin or Ichijoji stations. From Kyoto Station, one can 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. Alternatively, one can take the number five bus from Kyoto Station all the way to the Ichijoji Sagarimatsucho bus stop. The temple is conveniently located and easily accessible, making it a convenient destination for tourists.
While visiting Enkoji Temple, it is also worth exploring the surrounding area and visiting nearby attractions. Shisendo Temple is just a short distance away and is a serene Buddhist temple of the Soto Zen sect. Built in the 1600s, it is considered a masterpiece of its time and offers a peaceful and tranquil environment for meditation and contemplation. Exploring the temples in the area provides a deeper understanding of Japanese culture and spirituality.
In conclusion, Enkoji Temple is a hidden gem in Kyoto that offers a peaceful and serene retreat from the bustling city. With its impressive gardens, unique musical ornaments, bamboo forest, and breathtaking views, the temple provides an opportunity for visitors to connect with nature and find inner peace. Whether you are a nature lover, a photography enthusiast, or simply seeking a moment of tranquility, Enkoji Temple is a must-visit destination in Kyoto. So, next time you are in Kyoto, make sure to include Enkoji Temple in your itinerary and experience the beauty and serenity it has to offer.
Address And Maps Location:
13 Ichijoji Kotani-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu