Nishi Hongan-ji

sights / Religious

Nishi Hongan-ji information

Kyoto , Japan
Hanaya-chō sagaru
Getting there
Train: JR Tōkaidō Main Line
Train: JR Tōkaidō Shinkansen Line, Sanyō Shinkansen Line
Train: Kintetsu Kyoto Line
Opening hours
6am-5pm Nov-Feb, 5.30am-5.30pm Mar, Apr, Sep & Oct, to 6pm May-Aug
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In 1591 Toyotomi Hideyoshi built this temple, known as Hongan-ji, as the new headquarters for the Jōdo Shin-shū (True Pure Land) school of Buddhism, which had accumulated immense power. Later, Tokugawa Ieyasu saw this power as a threat and sought to weaken it by encouraging a breakaway faction of this school to found Higashi Hongan-ji (higashi means ‘east’) in 1602. The original Hongan-ji then became known as Nishi Hongan-ji (nishi means ‘west’). It now functions as the headquarters of the Hongan-ji branch of the Jōdo Shin-shū school, with over 10,000 temples and 12 million followers worldwide.

The temple contains five buildings, featuring some of the finest examples of architecture and artistic achievement from the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568–1600). The Goei-dō (main hall) is a marvellous sight. Another must-see building is the Daisho-in Hall , which has sumptuous paintings, carvings and metal ornamentation. A small garden and two nō (stylised Japanese dance-drama) stages are connected with the hall. The dazzling Kara-mon has intricate ornamental carvings.