Most foreigners who visit the area will have booked a visit to the Shugakuin Imperial Villa and will miss this little temple located right next to it. They will have the excuse that reaching the temple from the villa involves a very non-linear path in the neighbourhood (IOW, lots of turns and dead end streets). Sekisansen-in is, however, a nice little temple which is particularly interesting in autumn for it offers beautiful colours without the almost inevitable crowd.
For such a small temple Sekisanzen-in has a very complete website which even includes an English section about the temple history. So we can learn that the temple was founded in 888. Before returning to Japan, the founder of the Tendai sect vowed to build a temple for his Chinese protector Sekizan Daimyojin. However, the promise could not be fulfilled by the founder and it's the fourth priest that built Sekisanzen-in.
The temple has a special relation with Fukurokuju (福禄寿), one of the seven Japanese gods. He's the god of happiness and good life, and is represented with a tall bald head. Small cute figures of this god can be bought as votive offerings.
Recommended for: Access:
Nearby: Shūgaku-in Imperial Villa 修学院離宮 (280m), Zenka-in 禅華院 (410m), Hōdō-ji 宝幢寺 (490m), Kansai Seminar House 関西セミナーハウス (630m), Saginomori-jinja 鷺森神社 (770m), Manshuin Monzeki 曼殊院門跡 (830m), Renge-ji 蓮華寺 (920m), Rurikō-in 瑠璃光院 (1.1km)
External links: Website, ウィキペディア, Kyoto Navi, Trip Advisor, Kyoto Design, 京都風光, Marutake, そうだ京都, Satellite view, Map
Keywords: Japan, 日本, Japon, Kyoto, 京都, 左京区, Sakyo-ku, 赤山禅院, Sekizanzen-in, temple, 寺院, 仏閣