Attraction 30 Shishigatani Goshonodancho, Sakyo-ku,Kyoto 606-8422, Kyoto Prefecture Published on: 29-02-2016
Image copyrights belong to authors
Why Honen-in is special ?
Honenin Temple is one of the Buddhist temples along Kyoto's Philosopher's Walk. Honenin Temple is a beautiful secluded Japanese Temple, which is famous for its thatched gate and paintings on the sliding screens in the head priest's quarters are attributed to the Kano school of painters. Honen-in was built in 1680 by the priest Nincho. Honen is the name of the priest who founded the Pure Land Sect of Buddhism and lived from 1133 to 1212. He made a thatched hut for Buddhist training, but after he passed away, that place fell into ruin. About 400 years later, priest Bambu decided to build a temple at the site to remind people of Honen. Bambu commended his pupil Nincho to complete Honen-in. That’s how this temple came to be built. In 1953, the temple became independent of the Jodo-shu sect.
What to explore at Honen-in?
Honenin Temple features a Japanese pond garden and sculpted sand formations can be seen near the temple gate. The graveyard holds memorial stones for a number of authors such as Tanizaki Junichiro and other well-known people.
Starting with an incredibly scenic approach that culminates in a moss-covered gate, Honen-in works its magic on the visitor right from the start. Once inside, you’ll pass between two sand mounds that are said to purify the visitor. You then cross a lovely stone bridge over a pond and then make you way through a moss-covered garden to find yourself at a secret grotto behind the main hall. The main hall itself is only open from 1-17 April (when the camellias are in bloom) and 1-7 November (when the maples turn red). There’s also a small kura (storehouse) on the grounds where interesting free art exhibits are held and more serious exhibits are sometimes held in the main hall. It’s worth pointing out that the abbot of Honen-in is one of the most switched on individuals in the whole city and he brings together many of the country’s top artists and intellectuals.
How to get to Honen-in?
From Kyoto Station: Take Kyoto City Bus 5 bound for Iwakura and get off at Jodo-ji bus stop then walk toward the hill for 10minutes.
From Shijo Kawaramachi: Take Kyoto City Bus 32 bound for Ginkaku-ji Mae and get off at Minamida-cho bus stop then walk toward the hill for 5 minutes.
From Ginkaku-ji temple: 5 minutes on foot.
- Worth a short detour from the Path of Philosophy
- Peaceful temple and attached graveyard
- Tranquility in the woods
- Quiet temple with sophisticated garden
- Quite, traditional, just unforgetable
30 Shishigatani Goshonodancho, Sakyo-ku,Kyoto 606-8422, Kyoto Prefecture
Tips for you
There is a cemetery in this temple. You should keep silence there; Japanese cemetery is usually private place, not for sightseeing. You should take a short climb up to the observation look out; you can see the whole temple grounds and part of the surrounding countryside. The local shops on the street nearby will not use credit card, you should bring some cashes and exchange to yen.Things to do
Because this temple is visited less than some others near the philosopher's path, you can enjoy it in a serenity that's hard to come by elsewhere. The main hall apparently is open only a few times each year, but you can still see the beautiful garden, distinctive sand mounds, and an atmospheric gate topped with moss. Though a sign on the philosopher's path showed an arrow pointing toward the temple, I saw no other signage once I left the path. (Maybe I just took a wrong turn and missed it.) But wandering through several blocks of a peaceful residential neighborhood prompted fantasies of what it would be like to live in this part of Kyoto, and before long, some neighborhood walkers showed me the way. I was glad I hadn't given up, as the short visit here was a highlight of my Kyoto temple visits.
Cool little temple in the middle of a lot of green, not a must see but pretty cool if you are in the area. Short walk from the start of the philosopher's path.