Destination: 圓光寺 Enkōji

Impression: Leading up to the temple is a miniature pine grove, which I found quite charming.  As the temple is out in the open, it gets a lot of sunlight and fresh air and blue skies, which is rare for mountainside temples. The maple trees all over the temple were just starting to turn to bright orange, though when I asked the monk on duty about the best season, he recommended any time between November 25th to the 30th for viewing the leaves still on the trees, and the first week of December to see the fallen leaves as a blanket across their moss garden. 

It is a lovely temple, and worth a visit, though it is small. There is a small display room for their old woodblock printing press and some scroll paintings, as well a cemetery above the complex. Upon entering the garden, there is a small stone well with bamboo poles. If you put your ear to one of the poles, you can hear the water reverberating like a bell. It is called a suikinkutsu. It's quite unique! Next door is 西円寺 (Saienji), though today the main entrance was under construction so I couldn’t go in.

Best Season: Fall 
History: In 1601, this temple was erected in Fushimi as a school for samurai and poets. It was decreed that they would study Confucianism there. It was commissioned by Ieyasu Tokugawa just one year after the Battle of Sekigahara, where, after wiping out all other opposition, he had become the ruling shogun of Japan, establishing a reign that would last until the Meiji Era in 1868. It is part of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism and was first headed by San’yo Genkitsu of the Ashikaga.
The temple was moved to the Ichijoji area in 1667 by a later Tokugawa shogunate, where it has remained. It is being used as a dojo for Nanzen Temple currently, but until recently is has been a nunnery. The temple is most famous, however, for its printing practices that were imported from Korea. Some of the woodblocks they used at the time are still available, so are on display. Some of the sets are over 400 years old.

Enkouji is also highly recommended for viewing momiji (red maple leaves) in the fall. It has a lovely quiet garden that is full of maple trees, with a towering forest of bamboo in the back.  

13 Kodanichō Ichijōji, Kyōto

Hours & Admission: 
8:30-16:30 (Month of November: night view opening from 17:30-21:00) 
Closed: 12/28~31 for New Years.

400 yen; night view: additional 500 yen 


(Please view the rest of these photos on my Flickr Stream!)