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Temple & Monument
Higashi Honganji is good for
- Highly recommended by fellow travellers.
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Why Higashi Honganji is special ?
Higashi Honganji or, the Eastern Temple of the Original Vow, is one of two dominant sub-sects of Shin Buddhism in Japan and abroad, the other being Nishi Honganji. It is also the name of the head temple in Kyoto, a collection of buildings built in 1895 after a fire burned down the previous temple.
Higashi Honganji was established in 1602 by the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu when he split the Shin sect in two (Nishi Honganji being the other) in order to diminish its power.
During the Twentieth Century it was troubled by political disagreements, financial scandals and family disputes, and has subsequently fractured into a number of further sub-divisions. The largest Higashi Honganji grouping, the Shinshu Otaniha has approximately 5.5 million members, according to statistics. However within this climate of instability the Higashi Honganji also produced a significant number of extremely influential thinkers, such as Soga Ryojin, Kiyozawa Manshi, Kaneko Daiei and Haya Akegarasu amongst others.
What to explore at Higashi Honganji?
Higashi Honganji (East Honganji) was built only eleven years after and a few street blocks east of Nishi Honganji as the head temple of the Otani faction of Jodo-shin Buddhism. Its main hall, the Goeido is Kyoto's largest wooden structure and dedicated to Shinran, the sect's founder. Next to it and almost as large is the Amidado Hall, dedicated to the Amida Buddha. A small Japanese garden named Shoseien is located another few street blocks east of Higashi Honganji and serves as a detached temple residence of Higashi Honganji. Today, the garden with its pond and beautiful autumn colors is open to the public.
How to get to Higashi Honganji?
You can take JR Sagano Line or JR Nara Line to Kyoto Station. The Honganji temples are located a 10-15 minute walk north of Kyoto Station.
- Huge Temple complex, lots to see
- Peaceful and charming
- Spiritual Heart of True Pure Land Buddhism
- Largest wooden building in the world
- Spectacular main hall
Tips for you
On November 2014, the Amida Hall is under major renovation and inaccessible. One of the largest wooden structure in the world dedicated for Shinran, the founder of Jōdo Shinshū sect of Japanese Buddhism. Higashi Hongwanji temple is five minutes walking to the north direction from Kyoto Station passing the Kyoto Tower. The outer part is covered by a low wall and moats. The entrance gate is not the sanmon gate. The huge two-story sanmon gate as attached to the founder's hall where the statue of Amida Buddha and portrait of Shinran were enshrined. The founder's hall is impressively large, with large wooden pillars and flowing roof architecture. on the right side is the gallery of the temple and activities of the sect. Inside the hall is the statue of Amitabha Buddha, shinran and the past abbot of temple, and some paintings. The hall is quiet, pilgrims and worshipers come to pay homage, or doing some rituals. Note: there is a garden detached to the temple which is part of Higashi Honganji.