Eikando-Zenrinji Temple: The Best Autumn Leaves Spot In Kyoto

Eikando-Zenrinji Temple: The Best Autumn Leaves Spot In Kyoto
| 5 min read

The stunning visage of the Eikando-Zenrinji Temple in the historical area of Kyoto makes this one of the most-loved spots for autumn leaves. Located north of the sprawling Nanzenji complex, Eikando-Zenrinji Temple offers something truly relaxing and unique. Head there during the day and stroll hand-in-hand with your loved one. Be sure to stop by the lake and look at the reflection of the deep red hues from the trees in the water. Return in the early evening during autumn and you’ll be amazed by the lit-up arena which really creates a magical atmosphere around the site. For a birds-eye view of the Maple trees climb to the top of the Tahato Pagoda and you’ll be able to see the entire temple grounds. We also recommend visiting the unique Amida Buddha statue in the temple which, as legend has it, turned its head and spoke. So, what else lies in store for you with a trip to the Eikando-Zenrinji Temple to see the best autumnal leaves spot in Kyoto? Read on to find out.

Autumn leaves light-up at Eikando-Zenrinji Temple

This temple, certainly know how to make the best of a good thing. With over 3,000 maple leaves on-site, when it comes to the early evening you’ll be in for a treat. When the lights are switched on, the light display reflects perfectly on the red leaves of the Maples and creates a beautiful and romantic atmosphere. Team this with the Higashiyama mountain backdrop and old buildings of the temple you’ll be whisked away to a magical and special country. There is a reason that this is one of the most popular autumn leaves viewing sites in Kyoto, and the night illumination is generally between November and December.

Autumn leaves light-up at Eikando-Zenrinji Temple

Website: Autumn leaves light-up at Eikando-Zenrinji Temple

Opening hours: 5.30am - 9pm (daily)

Price: 6 USD

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When is the best time to see the autumn leaves of Eikando-Zenrinji in Kyoto?

Between November and December is the best time to head to Eikando-Zenrinji Temple to see the changing color of the leaves. Most of the visitors drop by the site at about 7 pm, particularly during the lit-up events . Therefore, if you are flexible then surely plan a trip around 8.30pm and, generally, there are fewer people. Of course, a visit during the daytime is also recommended as you can get some beautiful photos with the sky as a contrast to the red hues of the maple trees.

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Things to do near Eikando-Zenrinji Temple

As this site is in Kyoto there is plenty to see and do in the area. Therefore, you can enjoy a whole day in Kyoto and still be in the same location, that is close to the Eikando-Zenrinji Temple. We love that everything is within walking distance. Start your walking trail and finish at Eikando-Zenrinji Temple timing yourself with the light-up display. Just remember to stop by somewhere on the route and enjoy a traditional matcha tea that Kyoto is famous for.

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1. Nomura Art Museum

This small museum in a quiet neighborhood is a perfect stop-by if you are interested in tea history and ceramics. It is situated very close to the Eikando-Zenrinji Temple. There are just two rooms but they always feature unique and interesting exhibits. The exhibits are usually put on display for a limited period. So be rest assured that each time you visit this adorable museum you’re sure to see something new. Also, if you’re lucky, a ceramic artist might even be at the museum which means that you can get a special insight into the beautiful pieces on display. The backdrop of maple leaves in the autumn makes this little museum even more worth it.

Nomura Art Museum

Address: 61 Nanzenji Shimokawaracho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8434

Website: Nomura Art Museum

Opening hours: 10am - 4.30pm (daily)

Price: 7 USD

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2. Kumano Nyakuōji-jinja Shrine

With a history of 160 years, we’d also recommend a quick visit to the nearby Kumano Nyakuōji-jinja Shrine. The surrounding area, being only 161 meters (528 feet) from Eikando-Zenrinji Temple boasts the same Maple trees that bring the tourists to the area. However, this temple is also the start of the popular “Philosophers Walk’ in Kyoto. Finally, considering that this shrine is for academic and business prosperity you should definitely pay a visit and your respect.

Kumano Nyakuōji-jinja Shrine

Address: 2 Nyakuojicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8444

Website: Kumano Nyakuōji-jinja Shrine

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

Price: Free

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3. Hojo Garden

eikando-zenrinji temple: the best autumn leaves spot in kyoto | hojo garden
Source: instagram

Located on the grounds of Tofuku-ji Temple, these pretty gardens were built in 1939 and were designed as a representation of ‘concept gardens containing the abstract expression’. In fact, there are a series of gardens that combine to make the Hojo Garden. The South Garden focuses on Chinese mythology. The West Garden is set as a checkerboard pattern designed with azaleas to represent rice fields. The North Garden depicts the general concept of Buddhism spreading to other countries and finally, the East Garden shows the position of the Big Dipper, a star constellation in the sky.

Hojo Garden

Address: Nanzenji Fukuchicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8435

Website: Hojo Garden

Opening hours: 10am - 4.30pm / 5pm (daily)

Price: 5 USD

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4. Suirokaku Water Bridge

Bringing water from Lake Biwa, this aqueduct was famously made by a man in his early twenties and is an impressive feat of architecture. Built-in 1890, it still stands perfectly today and while walking below the aqueduct in Autumn gives you an opportunity to create stunning photos with the rustic bricks and red autumnal leaves in the background. However, for us, we love walking along the top of the viaduct (which you can get to via winding staircases) and take a stroll along the water’s edge.

Suirokaku Water Bridge

Address: 〒606-8435 Kyoto, Sakyo Ward, Nanzenji Fukuchi

Website: Suirokaku Water Bridge

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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5. Nanzenji Temple

Ever wondered what it would be like to be in your own magical forest-world? At Nanzenjin Temple, which is located at the base of the breathtaking Higigashiyama mountain. It is based on a large area and offers the perfect getaway from the hub-bub and crowds of Kyoto. Steeped in the mysticism of Zen Buddhism, you can stroll around this huge site and learn about the history of Zen. The temple is located just behind the aqueduct so you can visit both sites during your trip to the area.

Nanzenji Temple

Address: 〒606-8435 Kyoto, Sakyo Ward, Nanzenji Fukuchicho, 86

Website: Nanzenji Temple

Opening hours: Dec - Feb: 8.40am - 4.30pm (Daily); Mar - Nov: 8.40am - 5pm (daily)

Price: Free

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6. Kyoto City Zoo

Officially founded in 1903, this makes Kyoto Zoo the second oldest in the country. If you love animals you’ll be happy to hear that Kyoto Zoo is a member of the Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums (along with 150 other organizations). This means that the zoo is required to meet certain conditions and regulations in relation to the safety, comfort, and hygiene for the animals onsite. You can easily spend a day wandering around meeting all the fluffy, furry, feathery and even scaley creatures. It is 0.5 mi (0.8k m) from Eikando Zenrinji Temple.

Kyoto City Zoo

Address: Okazaki Hoshojicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8333

Website: Kyoto City Zoo

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 9am - 4.30pm (closed Mon)

Price: 6 USD

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7. Maruyama Park

Extremely popular in the Cherry Blossom viewing season (there are 680 cherry blossom trees), this stunning park does not disappoint during the Autumn period either. The park was completed in 1886 and, as such, is classed as the oldest park in Kyoto. In 1914 a circuit walkway was introduced so now guests can take a leisurely stroll around the gardens and enjoy all that is on offer. During the Autumnal period, we particularly love capturing the reflection of the red hues from the trees reflected in the lake.

Maruyama Park

Address: 463 Maruyamacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0071

Website: Maruyama Park

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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How do I get to Eikando-Zenrinji Temple?

One of the things that we love about Eikando-Zenrinji Temple is that it is really easy to get to from central Kyoto. Simply take the Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line towards Karasuma Oike Station. Transfer to the Tozai Subway Line approaching Rokujizo and disembark at Keage Station. From this point, it’s a short 15-minute walk. You can also take the bus from Kyoto Shiyakushomae bus station stop to Miyanomaecho bus station. From there, its a four-minute walk to the Eikando-Zenrinji Temple.

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Experience the autumnal phenomena in Kyoto

Eikan-do Zenrin-ji, November 2016 -03
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Martin Falbisoner used under CC BY-SA 4.0

There are many autumn leaves viewing spots in Kyoto, but for us, the Eikando-Zenrinji Temple outshines the rest. With its beautifully lit-up display, stunning maple leave foliage, unique surroundings, and plenty to see, you can easily spend a whole day and night here. So, what are you waiting for?

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Katie is a committed full-time global wanderer and volunteer. She possesses an unerring compass that guides her to the obscure and distant corners of the Earth, where she explores jungles,...Read more

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