See Japanese Baroque Art at Nishi Hongan-ji Temple in Kyoto.

Nishi Hongan-ji (official name: Hongan-ji) is the head temple of the Jodo Shinshu Honganji School. One of Shinran’s (the temple’s founder) daughters built the temple near Chionin temple after his death. The temple was relocated to it’s current location in 1591. The Jodo Shinshu School had a successor problem during the Japanese civil war. In 1602, it was split into the Honganji school and the Shinshu Otani school. The Nishi Hongan-ji was home to the Honganji school. The Nishi Hongan-ji was designated as a UNESCO heritage site in 1994 because it’s architecture and gardens demonstrate the beauty and dynamism of the Momoyama Culture, which developed during the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573-1603).

2016-08-16   Destinations, Kyoto,

Karamon gate


The Gingko trees and a mysterious legend
Meet Shinran at Goeido
Don’t miss the interesting “plugs” that were built by a carpenter!
The sculpture at Karamong gate will enchant you!
The reason why Hongan-ji temple has no Oracles and Charms

Gingko trees
Gingko trees

The Gingko trees and a mysterious legend

You’ll see Goeido on the left hand side of the entrance, and Amidado on the right hand side. Both of them are designated as the national treasures. Amidado is the main temple. However, Goeido is larger, because it’s where Shinran’s statue is enshrined.

In front of Goedido, there is a large Gingko tree. It is said to be about 400 years old, and are designated as natural monuments in the city of Kyoto. It looks like its roots are reaching to the sky, so they are also referred to as upside down Gingko trees. There’s a legend that says they protect the temple from fire by showering water on it.

Inside the Goeido
Inside the Goeido

Meet Shinran at Goeido

Inside the Goeido, a sublime atmosphere drifts across the large tatami room. The room is said to reproduce the land that Sinran used to dream about.

Transom and pictures on fusuma
Transom and pictures on fusuma

I found a transom and pictures on fusuma with gold foil inside the hall. The picture is believed to be painted by a painter from the Kano sect. The Kano sect was powerful at the time, and they painted gorgeous paintings with gold foil and colors. Buddhism was dying at the time, so the samurai and merchants were considered more powerful, giving prosperity to these pieces of art.

The corridor
The corridor

Don’t miss the interesting “plugs” that were built by a carpenter!

You’ll see interesting plugs in the corridor that connects Goeido and Amdado.

Balcony
Balcony

When you walk through the corridor, please carefully look at the floor. You’ll see some wooden plugs that are shaped like animals and lucky charms. These are used for mending, but the carpenter at the time was playing around with different shapes.

Plugs
Plugs

I found a plug that is shaped like a gourd. You might be able to find other different shapes.

Karamong gate
Karamong gate

The sculpture at Karamong gate will enchant you!

Karamong gate is called the “Day passing gate”, which means that you won’t get bored looking at the gate all day long. You can see traits of the Momoyama culture. Gorgeous flowers, giraffes, and lions represent its vigorous and tacky culture from that time.

Karamon sculpture
Karamon sculpture

Karamon gate is also an entrance to a library. It’s a mixture of Japanese wabi-sabi and tacky Momoyama culture.

Library
Library
Nishi Hongan-ji temple MAP
Nishi Hongan-ji temple MAP

The reason why Hongan-ji temple has no Oracles and Charms

There are no shops that sell oracles and charms inside the temple. The reason why they don’t sell oracles and charms is because they believe that Amida will change people from bad to good without the need for charms or oracles.

Nishi Hongan-ji temple is not a place for sightseeing. It’s a religious place that is open to everyone, so they don’t charge any entrance fee.
If you book in advance, you can see the oldest Noh stages.

Map

Hanayacho-sagaru, Horikawa-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8501

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AUTHOR

kyoami

kyoami

Writer/ Translator

I love Japanese folkcraft article, traditional handicrafts and antiques. I’m seeking the Japanese people’s religious outlooks and its origins that are behind Japanese people’s unique sense and techniques rooted in the ordinary life.

Information

Address Hanayacho-sagaru, Horikawa-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8501
Hours March to April, September to October 5:30~17:30 /
May to August 5:30~18:00, November to February 5:30~17:00
Price Free
Close -
Access 15 mins from JR Kyoto station
Or walk from the city bus stop “Nishi Hongan-ji Temple
Phone 075-371-5181
Website http://www.hongwanji.or.jp