Eikando, Kyoto • 永観堂、京都

I went to Eikando for the first time 7 years ago. Without a coat.

I was ready with the coat this time though. Eikando has, by far, the best autumn light up I've seen in my 7 years here. I've often heard the family describe it as though 'the trees are actually burning', which I thought to be a little exaggerated originally, but I don't now. The trees really look like they're frozen mid flame. It even makes the place feel warmer.

The area around the Hojo Pond in the middle is full of Japanese maple, and the grounds are big enough to accomodate the crowds that flock there. The Taho-to, which is a two story pagoda, is lit up in the background (halfway up the mountain) and visible from most spots around Eikando. All buildings are given the right type of light, so you'd have to be a fool with a camera (like me) to take bad photos.

Apparently Eikando is a pretty charitable temple, and has gained the respect of many in Japan not just because of it's grounds, but for it's work helping poor people for hundreds of years. One nice story tells of the priest Eikan, took the plums from the Hidenbai trees and gave them to the sick. It's because of his hard work that Zenrin-ji took on the name of Eikando.

Don't forget your coat.

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