Funda-in (芬陀院) has the particularity of being the only temple that I visited in Kyoto whose name starts with "F". You knew the F-word, now you know the F-temple. Luckily though, the first letter of its name if not exactly the only interesting thing about this temple. It is in fact one of those places that I wished I visited sooner. Funda-in was founded in 1321 as a family temple for the Ichijo clan, but always had strong ties with the neighbouring big brother that is Tofuku-ji (東福寺).
The first detail that struck me was the beautiful dried leave inserts in the paper doors (shoji). Although this is not completely original (see for example Taizo-in), Funda-in brings this art to 11 with a different plant being set in every pair of doors. It looks so good that most of the pictures below are from this very detail. The next thing that can't be missed is the bamboo fountain, called a "tsukubai" (つくばい - 蹲い). When I visited the temple it was decorated with a nice flower arrangement, possibly some sort of ikebana.
Otherwise the temple has two main gardens, both of classic style. The first one in front of the main hall (south garden) consists of raked gravel grounds with a moss garden in the far end. On the moss lie two groups of stones: the one on the left represents a tortoise, the one on the right a crane (yes, I know, it's hard to see). The second garden on the east is more of a "order within disorder" style, with lots of moss, stones and rhododendrons (tsutsuji). In its far end is a small pavilion with a round window which makes a very nice photo opportunity, both sides of the window :-)
And then there's the... third garden, next to the tea room. It may not be detailed in the English brochure, but it has an interesting feature: a stone lantern which consists in... two small lanterns fused together. It looks a bit like a small house. Hard to explain (see the pictures below). It's quite rare to see something departing from the "normal" lantern, and as far as I know this one is unique.
Funda-in is right next to Tofuku-ji, just go down the street in front of Tofukuji's main gate and look for Funda-in's entrance on the left. Even on a busy day, it;s a lot quieter than the Tofuku-ji and its busloads of tourists...
Recommended for: Access:
Nearby: Tentoku-in 天得院 (50m), Tōkō-ji 東光寺 (100m), Ikkai-in 一華院 (190m), Reiun-in 霊雲院 (230m), Kaizan-dō 開山堂 (250m), Ryōgin-an 龍吟庵 (270m), Kōmyō-in 光明院 (290m), Sokushū-in 即宗院 (320m), Shōkō-in 盛光院 (440m), Shōrin-ji 勝林寺 (450m),...
External links: ウィキペディア, Kyoto Navi, Kyoto Design, 京都風光, そうだ京都, Satellite view, Map
Keywords: Japan, 日本, Japon, Kyoto, 京都, 東山, Higashiyama, Tofuku-ji, 東福寺, temple, 寺院, 仏閣, 芬陀院, Funda-in, subtemple, 塔頭