This small temple in far Northern Higashiyama packs a huge punch: It’s got two incredible gardens, some fine Buddhist artwork and even a small bamboo forest reminiscent of the famous one in Arashiyama.
Enko-ji Temple in Northern Higashiyama – image © Damien Douxchamps
This Zen temple, established by the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1600, is easily one of our favorite temples in Kyoto. It’s a little out of the way, but it’s well worth the trip. It’s almost never crowded and there is a lot to see and enjoy.
After passing through the gate and ascending to the main precinct of the temple, you will come to the Honryu-tei (Running Dragon) Garden. As the name suggests, the garden calls to mind a dragon in flight. It’s rare to use words like “wild” or “exciting” to describe a Zen garden, but here they are warranted. With huge stones jutting skyward, this is one garden that will take yoagodaur breath away.
After you pass by this garden, you enter the main stroll garden of the temple. The maples here are famous for their vibrant colors. There is a lovely pond here, behind which there is a small bamboo forest. After strolling the garden, you can enjoy the adjoining hall and sit for a while to enjoy the view over the garden. And, on your way out, you will be treated to an eye-popping view over Kyoto, all the way to the Arashiyama Mountains.
Enko-ji Temple in Northern Higashiyama – image © Chris Rowthorn
13 Ichijoji-Kotani-cho, Sakyo-ku
10min walk from Ichijoji Sagarimatsucho Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 5 from Kyoto Station
See hotels around Shisen-do Temple if you want to stay near to Enko-ji Temple.
Enko-ji Temple (Japanese and English)
Where Is This Place Located?See these places on our Kyoto Google map:
- Open the Kyoto map
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Map pins are color coded - BLUE: Hotels | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
- If you're using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world