Kyoto Temples & Shrines: Honen-in
Honen-in Temple 法然院
- On the Philosopher's Walk.
- Located in northeast Kyoto.
- Beautiful cherry tree viewing area.
- Amazing fall foliage.
- Close to Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion) and Nanzenji.
Walking north from Nanzen-ji on the cherry-tree lined 'Philosopher's Walk' you will pass Eikan-do, a small temple famed for its statue of Amida and then the small, peaceful Honen-in Temple at the foot of Mount Nyoigadake, with its tranquil carp pond and freshly raked sand garden called Byakusadan, visible as you enter through the main, thatched gate of the temple.
Established in 1680 to honor Honen (1133-1212), the founder of the Jodo sect, the temple is especially worth visiting in April for its cherry blossoms and again in the Fall for its magnificent maples. Honen-in also has a small camellia garden visible from Hojo Hall.
The Hojo Hall, which houses paintings by Kano Mitsunobu, is opened to the public only in the first week of April and the first week of November, when the temple becomes very popular with Kyoto visitors.
Honen-in often stages small exhibitions by local artists and musicians in a small hall to the right of the main Sanmon gate. In fact, in recent years there has been over 100 events a year held at the temple including symposiums, Western and Japanese music recitals and tea gatherings. Reaching out to the wider community has been a policy of the abbot Shinsho Kajita, who became the head monk after the death of his father in 1984. Honen-in also sponsors nature walks in the area through the Honen-in Mori no Kyoshitsu.
Free Admission to the grounds with a small fee for the main hall; 7am-4pm.
Moss garden at Honen-in Temple in Higashiyama, Kyoto, Japan
Entrance gate to Honen-in and a sand sculpture freshly raked
The shallow carp pond is crossed by low bridges and at the back of the temple to your right is a fine statue of Jizo. A stone pillar outside the temple states that alcohol, garlic and meat are not to be brought inside the temple. Honen-in's small cemetery holds some of the ashes of novelist Junichiro Tanizaki (1886 - 1965), who spent part of his life in Kyoto.
From Shijo Kawaramachi, bus #32. From Kyoto Station, bus #5. Get off at Ginkakuji-mae. A five-minute walk. Alternatively ride the Raku Bus #102 or #100 also from Kyoto Station.
By bicycle along Philosopher's Walk is a good way to get to Honen-in, Anrakuji, Reikanji, Kumano Nyakuoji Shrine and Ginkakuji Temple.
A view of moss and tree roots at Honen-in Temple in Kyoto
Honen-in Temple sand sculpture, Higashiyama, Kyoto
View Kyoto Map in a larger map