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 I 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 more green.
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.
When you leave the temple you arrive in a courtyard with a small shrine (that you will have seen from the wooden passage). Leave the shrine and turn right in the street to head to Kiyomizu-dera.
Recommended for: Access:
Nearby: Daiun-in 大雲院 (140m), Evening tea ceremony 冬の夜の茶会 (150m), Tōkei-ji 東景寺 (160m), Nene No Michi ねねの道 (170m), Ryōzen Kannon 霊山観音 (220m), Hōkan-ji 法観寺 (270m), Kongō-ji 金剛寺 (290m), Yasaka-jinja 八坂神社 (320m), Yasui Kompira-gū 安井金比羅宮 (340m), Daitō-in 大統院 (360m),...
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Keywords: Japan, 日本, Japon, Kyoto, 京都, 東山, Higashiyama, 高台寺, Kodai-ji, temple, 寺院, 仏閣, Entoku-in, 圓徳院