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Why Entokuin Temple is special ?
Entoku-in (圓徳院 or 円徳院) is a sub-temple of Kodai-ji (高台寺), although it's not really a part of it since a street separates them. In fact, the pamphlet says that it "was" part of Kodai-ji, but since you can buy a common ticket for both you will assume that they still collaborate. Entoku-in was founded in 1605, and has now been swallowed by the shops that fill every square meter of the area. The temple is known for its two rock gardens. The first one you will see is in front of the main hall, and consists mostly of racked gravel grounds. The second one is in the second part of the temple, and has more moss and trees, in other words it’s is green.
What to explore at Entokuin Temple?
The temple has two section, which are joined by a bridge. The first section is the one with the main hall and the dry garden. Several sliding doors are also exposed in the former abbot's quarters. They have been painted by Hasegawa Tohaku, and are an Important Cultural Property (I forgot where this places them in the "sugoi" scale of Japanese cultural assets; they have quite a few classifications.) A small wooden bridge joins the two section. The narrow street under it is a nice promenade which leads to a few old back streets with old stone walls; you should walk it too. For now you're on the bridge, so let's go to the next section, which has a meditation hall with a (nicer) zen garden of rock, moss and other vegetation. There used to be a pond, but it's now dry and only the lower ground level reminds of its former presence. Many of the stones were given to the temple by samurai's.
At the extremity of the hall, on the left, is a bell which you can ring if you want to buy a macha-wagashi set (green tea and sweet). Ring the bell, you want it. Because it is one of the rare places where the tea is served in a real tea room, which is bit further on the left, in the garden. You will have to walk on a few step stones, then bend to fit in the small door. The door is small for two reasons: first, so that you can't enter with a sword or katana, because that is verboten in a tea room. Next, to force you bend down, thus lowering yourself in a sort of bowing action. This was meant so that even the most important people had to show humility and respect. Nice tricks for a small door, eh! Once in the tea room you can enjoy your tea, and try to take pictures if you can (it's quite dark). Leaving the room is a bit difficult too, but it's an experience not to be missed.
How to get to Entokuin Temple?
5min walk from Higashiyama Yasui Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 206 from Kyoto Station
- Attractive & interesting gardens
- Lovely paintings
- A nice place - with a small Tea Ceremony (extra)
- Nice place to escape the city
- Temple With Natural Garden
Japan 〒605-0825 京都府京都市東山区下河原通八坂鳥居前下る下河原町５３０
Tips for you
This small temple is just steps away from Kodaiji Temple and it features a beautiful Zen garden as well as several impressive paintings by Hasegawa Touhaku. It doesnt take long to go through and one can buy a combo ticket with entrance to the museum and Kodaji Temple as well for 900yen per person. Recommendable. No photos allowed inside. One has to take off ones shoes and take along in a temple~provided plastic bag as the exit is on another side of the temple
They open at night during fall and winter. The view was awesome!
Entokuji is located on the opposit side of this Kodaiji. Entokuji is a cosy and a bit small compared with the Kodaiji. After you go through the wooden door, you will see some maple trees and pine trees near the stone garden. The stone garden will appear on your left while you go strate. You could have a rest to see the stone garden for a while, and after that, you could enter in to the Temple. When I visited Entokuji, they had a photo exibtion of HosoeEiko so I was able to enjoy some photo his masterpieces. At the end of the Entokuji, I finally reached to the Stone garden, which is know for its scenic beatuy. There was a red carpet beeninglayed on the whole porch so you could sit down and enjoy the view. It was really nice to sit there and take a long look on the garden to forget about everything... I had been sitting there for more then 1 hour, I'm sure you will have a different inspiration than you will gain from the stone garden of Ryoanji.