Sunday, April 03, 2016

Kyoto : Nishi Honganji Temple

On our very first trip to Kyoto, we had carefully planned our list of places to visit in Kyoto with the help of a friend. Since we had limited time at our disposal, we had selected the most popular and highly recommended temples and shrines in Kyoto. However we did visit a few places which were not on our original itinerary. 
One such temple was the Nishi Honganji temple. While riding on one of the city buses to Kyoto station, we happened to see the beautiful Karamon gate of the Nishi Honganji temple and decided that we had to check it out. 
Nishi Honganji is one of the two large Honganji temples in the centre of Kyoto. Nishi Honganji and Higashi Honganji are the headquarters of the two factions of the Jodo-Shin Sect (True Pure Land sect) of Buddhism. 
The original headquarters of the Jodo Shin sect was the Ishiyama Honganji temple in Osaka, which was destroyed by Oda Nobunaga to limit the interference of the temple in politics. A Honganji temple was built in 1591 by war lord Toyotomi Hideyoshi, as the head of the sect. In 1602, Tokugawa Ieyasu split the temple into two Honganji temples- Nishi Honganji and Higashi Honganji. Today the Nishi Honganji temple is the head of over 10,000 sub temples of the sect in Japan and 200 temples overseas.
The Nishi Honganji temple is said to be the finest example of the architecture style of the Azuchi-Momoyama period. One of the two largest structures of the Nishi Honganji temple is the Goeido Hall, the main hall,  dedicated to the founder of the sect, Shinran. 

The other larger structure is the Amidado Hall dedicated to Amida Buddha. 
A wooden corridor connects the Goeido and Amidado halls. 

Golden lanterns adorn the halls and the connecting corridor.

The lanterns have intricate designs with 'eyes' at the bottom.
The very ornately decorated Karamon Gate is the gate that had led us to visiting the temple. 

The Chinese style carvings and Chinese lions depicted on the gate are unique to the architecture styles of that period.  

A 400 year old Gingko tree and a lotus shaped water fountain can be seen on the temple grounds.

The temple has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site under the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto.

Opening Hours: 5:30-18:00 ( closes earlier between September-April)

Entrance: Free

Parking: Free parking available

Address: Kyoto Prefecture 600-8358 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Monzencho, Nishi Honganji

Phone: 075-371-5181

English Website :

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