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Higashi Honganji - Kyoto

Located at 754 Tokiwachō, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto City in Kyoto Prefecture, Higashi Honganji (東本願寺) is one of the two dominant sub-sects of Shin Buddhism.

東本願寺
Higashi Honganji (東本願寺)

Higashi Honganji History

Higashi Honganji, also affectionately called Ohigashisan or Honorable Mr. East by its devotees, was established in 1602 when shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered the Shin Sect to be divided to diminish its power and influence. The order gave birth to two of Japan's most dominant sub-sects of Shin Buddhism - Nishi Honganji (The Western Temple of the Original Vow) and Higashi Honganji (The Eastern Temple of the Original Vow).

Higashi Honganji Temple 東本願寺
Higashi Honganji - Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture

東本願寺
Higashi Honganji marker outside the temple vicinity

The first few structures of Higashi Honganji were built in its present location in 1658. From there, other establishments were added to the temple complex throughout the years.  

Higashi Honganji
Higashi Honganji grounds map

東本願寺 map
Another temple map

Founder's Hall Higashi Honganji 東本願寺
Higashi Honganji's Founder's Hall

東本願寺 Founder's Hall
The Founder's Hall as seen from the Founder's Hall Gate

Speaking of establishments inside the temple complex, the Founder's Hall can be found at the center of the complex. Standing 125 feet in height, 250 feet in length, and 190 feet in width, The Founder's Hall is one of the largest wooden structures in the world. It is here where the image of the temple's founder Shinran is enshrined. 

東本願寺 Higashi Honganji Amida Hall
Amida Hall

On the left side of the Founder's Hall is the Amida Hall. It contains an image of the Amida Buddha and of Prince Shotoku. 

Goei-do Mon 東本願寺
Founder's Hall Gate aka Goei-do

Higashi Honganji Gate
Amida Hall Gate aka Amida-do

東本願寺
Check out the moat outside the temple vicinity. There are several large corps living there.

Sadly, both the Founder's Hall and Amida Hall along with several other structures of Higashi Honganji were burned down four times during the Edo Period. The first time was during the Great Tenmei Fire of 1788 (the temple was rebuilt in 1797). The second time was in 1823 when an accident fire consumed many structures in the temple complex (the temple and most of the structures were rebuilt in 1835). Many of these structures were gutted again by fire in 1858 but were quickly, but temporarily, reconstructed in 1861 for the celebration of Shinran's 600th Memorial Services. However, a city-wide fire caused by the 1864 Kinmon incident burned down the temple once again. 

東本願寺
One of the bells of the temple

東本願寺
Another bell on display near the gift shop

東本願寺
Inside the gift shop

The current Founder's Hall and Amida Hall were rebuilt and completed in 1895. Other structures in the temple complex were restored in 1911. Today, Higashi Honganji is officially called Shinshu Honbyo and covers an area of 93,140 square meters. It's currently the head temple of the Otani ha branch of the Jodo Shinshu which is one of the largest Buddhist denominations in Japan with approximately 8700 local temples, 50 regional headquarter temples (betsuin) and 35 temples overseas. 

Higashi Honganji 東本願寺
Temple Services Reception Center

東本願寺
Higashi Honganji's chozubachi or water-filled basins

Higashi Honganji was the first Japanese temple my dad, brother, and I visited during our 3rd time in Japan last December 2019. I'm also glad to share that it's my dad and brother's first visit to Japan. I brought them to Higashi Honganji as it was the nearest temple to our accommodation. Aside from that, I was also eager to see the sister temple of Nishi Honganji which my wife, daughter, and I visited last 2018. 

東本願寺
My dad and brother seem to have enjoyed the visit

Aside from admiring the ginormous Founder's Hall and Amida Hall, my father, brother, and I also enjoyed taking videos using the yellow fallen leaves of the ginkgo trees as props. We explored the temple grounds until 5:30PM, which was its closing time, before going back to our Air BnB residence. 

Here's my dad enjoying the ginkgo leaves:


Higashi Honganji Admission Fee:

I'm happy to share that Higashi Hongaji is one of those temples that does not ask for any fees to explore any part of its vicinity. In short, it's FREE!

Higashi Honganji Opening Hours:

Higashi Honganji is open from 5:50AM -5:30PM.

Why visit Higashi Honganji:

Higashi Honganji is one of the places you should visit if you're doing a walking tour around Kyoto Station as it is very close to the station. However, if you are collecting goshuin, keep in mind that this temple does not offer it. 

Getting to Higashi Honganji:

 

From Kyoto Station, ride the Karasuma subway line and board down at Gojo Station (one-stop, 220 yen). From there, walk for about 3-4 minutes to reach Higashi Honganji. 

However, you can actually walk from Kyoto Station to the temple. It's about 500 meters away. 

Ratings:

Crowd

Cleanliness

Overall rating


Comments

  1. Very interesting, free entry and close to the station. One for my list when I am in Japan.

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    Replies
    1. True! This should be one of the first places that you could visit in Kyoto.

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  2. This place looks amazing. I would love to visit it one day.

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  3. This so makes me want to go to Japan. Awesome report!

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  4. I can not wait to get back to Japan. And when I do, this is definitely on my places to visit. Great tips!

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  5. Wow! This looks so beautiful!

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    Replies
    1. Higashi Honganji is one of the most beautiful temples in Kyoto.

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  6. Awesome, love how you’ve broken down all the different parts of it. Ell x

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Ell. :) Please do visit Higashi Honganji.

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  7. What a beautiful temple! I'm sure it is truly amazing up close and personal.

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    Replies
    1. Higashi Honganji is truly an amazing temple when you see it personally. You gotta love it. Please do include it in your itinerary someday. :)

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  8. Thanx for the informative post.

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  9. What font are you using here in your site? Also, what camera is it as its so clear and crisp photos there which is so captivating!!! Thanks for the share :)

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    Replies
    1. I'm using Coming Soon font in my blog. As for the Camera, I use NikonD3100. :)

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  10. I've been yearning to visit Japan even before. Thank you for sharing these pictures, You must've enjoyed travelling there!

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    1. You should come visit Dianne. I'm sure you'll love this awesome country.

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  11. Konnichiwa, Neil-san! I truly find your Kyoto adventures enjoyable as I haven't explored this city thoroughly. I can't believe I missed Higashi Honganji! I've been Kyoto TWICE but have only visited the Inari and Arashiyama. Nakaka-inggit po! 😞 😞 😞

    PS: It's a bummer that they do not have shrine seals! Ilang na sayo? 😁

    Off topic: I'm planning to stay in Kyoto (inggitera diba? haha) when I get to travel to Japan again and I'd like to do Samurai training (I'm serious!). Meron kaya jan?

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    Replies
    1. Ay trip ko rin yan Polly. :) Meron raw Samurai training sa Kyoto pero di ko pa natatry. Sa Asakusa merom rin. :)
      After pandemic try kong balikan. :)

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  12. OMG, you are making me miss Japan even more! Hope Japan (rural areas) still a cheaper places to travel.

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    Replies
    1. Yes it is still cheaper sa rural areas. You should visit the lesser known towns mura dun and food and accommodation.

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  13. I would love to visit Kyoto Higashi Honganji Temple. I just love the architecture of the buildings.

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    Replies
    1. Please do visit Higashi Honganji when you finally get to visit Japan.

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  14. Bet yah everyone who visits the place enjoyed that gingko tree leaves! HAHA I saw some of my friends photos with that too 😁❤️

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    Replies
    1. Hahaha that's true GV. You can see my dad's fascination of these golden yellow leaves.

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  15. Japan is on my wishlist... hopefully this situation sorts & we can travel back again!

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    Replies
    1. You should come visit Japan ASAP after the pandemic Aanya.

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  16. This article is full of history and great knowledge. Awesome one for a traveler.

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    1. Thank you Srishti! I try to get as much info as I could about the place that I visit to share to my readers.

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  17. yeah!! I went to this temple before during my Kyoto trip, thanks for sharing

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  18. So nice and informative. Thanks for sharing!

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