Nishi Honganji - Kyoto

Located at 60 Horikawa-dori, Hanaya-cho, Kudaru Honganji Monzen-machi, Kyoto City in Kyoto Prefecture, Nishi Honganji (西本願寺) is one of the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Kyoto.

Nishi Hongwanji
Nishi Honganji (西本願寺)

Nishi Honganji History

Nishi Honganji, also called Nishi Hongwanji, is the mother temple and headquarters of the Jodo Shinshu sect. The name Nishi Hongwanji means "Western Temple of the Original Vow". The temple and its sister temple Higashi Honganji were established in 1602 by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu after he split the main Hongan-ji in Kyoto into two temples. 

Shinran Shonin

The temple follows the Judo Shinshu teachings of Shinran Shonin who was famously known for his major work "The True Teaching, Practice, and Realization of the Pure Land Way" or Kyogyoshinshu. After his death in 1263, a mausoleum was erected at Otani, Higashiyama in Kyoto City. This became the foundation for Hongwanji.

The Goeido on the left and the Amidado on the right

Goeido gate

Presently, Nishi Hongwanji is listed as one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto while many of its structures like the Amidado and Karamon are designated as national treasures and important Cultural Properties of Japan. Speaking of structures, here are some of the structures that I saw inside the Nishi Hongwanji (Temple) complex:

Nishi Honganji
Goeido (Founder's Hall) 

Nishi Honganji
Amidado (Hall of Amida Buddha)

Nishi Honganji's Temple bell

Check out the size of that lantern

Nishi Honganji
The Karamon (A National Treasure)

The original Buppan-sho (rice offering preparation room)

Scripture Repository

Nishi Honganji's temizuya


Amidado Gate and the rest area

Nishi Honganji's Ginkgo tree

My family and I got to visit Nishi Hongwanji on the 6th day of our 2018 Japan Trip. It was the first of 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that we have explored and visited that day. What amazed me about Nishi Honganji was how enormous it was. I was expecting a house size Japanese temple but the Goeido (Founder's Hall) really goes beyond my expectations. It took me almost an hour to explore its vicinity. What's nice about the temple is that it is free to enter. 

Check out the sculptures of the Karamon

Walking on the corridor between Goeido and Amidado

Young Ella visits Nishi Honganji.

Nishi Honganji Temple vicinity map

Overall, Nishi Hongwanji should be part of your itinerary whenever you plan to explore the historic places near Kyoto Station. However, if you're into collecting temple seals or goshuin, this temple is not a place that you'd want to visit. Nishi Hongwanji does not practice goshuin. They, however, have a stamp that you could use for your diary or travel notebooks. 

Nishi Honganji Admission Fee

Nishi Honganji grounds are FREE to explore. However, you can drop a coin or two at the coin box of Goeido and Amidado.

Nishi Honganji Opening Hours:

Nishi Honganji opens at 5:30 AM to 5:30 PM (March, April, September, and October), 5:30AM to 6PM (May-August), and 5:30 - 5PM (November - February).

Why visit Nishi Honganji?

If you are staying near Kyoto Station, this is one of the nearest UNESCO World Heritage Sites that you could visit on foot. Aside from that, this temple is only one of the several destinations that you can visit that does not ask for any admissions fees. However, if you are a fan of collecting goshuin sorry but this temple does not follow that tradition. 

Getting to Nishi Honganji:

Ride Kyoto City Bus #9, #28, or #75 (bound for Nishi Kamo Shako) then board down at Hongwanji-mae.
Bus fare: 230 yen

Another option is to reach it on foot from Kyoto Station. Simply walk northwards from the Kyoto Station and follow the signages along the way. It would also be helpful if you have Google Maps with you to make your travel very convenient. It's only 10-15 minutes away by foot.

Overall rating


  1. Great photos. Looks an interesting place.

  2. Great photos!!! Would love to travel there. Looks amazing

    1. It really is amazing. =) You should visit it when you head to Kyoto City.

  3. What an amazing experience you got to share with your family. My brother served in the navy while in Japan and really couldn’t stop talking about it. Certainly look forward to visiting

    1. Wow! Lucky you. I'm excited to see your photos of Japan when you visit.

  4. Great location and nature hope someday I can go there

    1. Thank you. I hope you could also visit this site someday.

  5. What an amazing place. The temple looks so stunning and solemn at the same time. Love it!

    1. Thank you so much Ron. Please do visit Nishi Hongwanji Temple.


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