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Higashi Honganji, Kyoto

Higashi Honganji Temple, Kyoto

Higashi Honganji (東本願寺) is the head temple of the Otani Faction of the Jodo-Shin (True Pure Land) Sect of Buddhism. It is a large temple complex located in the Shimogyo Ward of Kyoto.

In 1602, the (Honganji) Shin Sect was split into two factions Nishi (West) Honganji and Higashi (East) Honganji.

The temple buildings have burnt down numerous times since the temple's establishment. The reconstruction of the Amida Hall and the Founder's Hall was finalised in 1895.

Opening Times & Admission

Open 5:50 am to 5.30 pm. from March to October and 6.20 am to 4.30 pm from November to February.

Admission is free.

Higashi Honganji Temple, Kyoto

How to get there

Higashi Hongan-ji is a 5-10-minute walk from Kyoto Station.

Address:  〒600-8505 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Japan

The Founder's Hall Gate (Goei-do Mon)

Higashi Honganji Temple, Kyoto

As you walk towards the temple, the first structure you will notice is the Goei-do Mon ( the Founder's Hall Gate).

On the second story, you can see a plaque with the temple's official name - 'Shinshū Honbyō'.

The reconstruction of this two-story, 28-metre-tall gate was finalised in 1911.

Higashi Honganji Temple, Kyoto

As you enter through this massive gate, straight ahead you will find the Main Hall and to the left, the Amida Hall.

The Founder's Hall (Goei-do)

Higashi Honganji Temple, Kyoto

The Founder's Hall is the most impressive of Higashi Honganji's buildings and one of Kyoto's largest wooden structures. It claims to have enough room for 3000 people to congregate.

Here you can find enshrined the image of Shinran, the founder of the temple.

Photography is not permitted inside the halls.

The Amida Hall (Amida-do)

Higashi Honganji Temple, Kyoto

The Amida Hall has, as expected, an image of Amida Buddha enshrined on the main altar.

You can walk between the two halls via a wooden corridor.

On display, you can see a timber sled and a hair rope, both used in the reconstruction of Higashi Honganji. The rope weighing 375 kg is made out of hemp and human hair donated by female devotees from throughout Japan.

The Bell Tower & Gates

Higashi Honganji Temple, Kyoto bell tower

Apart from the two main buildings and the huge main gate, a few other elements attracted my attention. The Shoro (bell tower) looked great, as seen from the Amida Hall, while the smaller gates, although not as imposing as the one through which I entered, were beautifully decorated and well worth spending some time admiring the level of detail in the artwork.

For me, the Higashi Honganj Temple is a must-see when in Kyoto.

It can take 1 to 2 hours to visit this temple complex if you want to take your time and see everything it has to offer.

Higashi Honganji Temple, Kyoto main gate

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I hope life is treating you well.

Take care.

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