Honen-in may be a place where you should expect something to feel instead of something to see. The independent Jodo-shu temple has no spectacular things but has refreshing and calm atmosphere. This small temple may look like a Zen Buddhist seminary though it's not really a Zen temple.
If you visited famous Ginkaku-ji temple, it might be a good idea to walk several minutes and drop by the small temple.
Though the temple is open to the public throughout the year, the buildings of the temple are to be open to the public only twice a year, April 1 through 7 and November 1 to 7. Shoheki-ga paintings in Hojo building are painted by Kano Mitsunobu (1565-1608) and are national important cultural properties. Hojo is said to have been transferred from Momoyama Palace in Fushimi.
Priest Honen (1133-1212) left Hieizan Enryaku-ji and established Jodo-shu Sect of Buddhism in 1175. He lived in Higashiyama-Yoshimizu, where Chion-in, the head temple of Jodo-shu sect, was built later. He had a thatched hut in Shishigatani that evolved to be Honen-in temple years later.
Jodo-shu was considered to be a heretic by conventional Buddhist sects and was accused of evil Buddhism. Honen was exiled to a far-off place in the year 1207 at the age of 75 and his hut dilapidated.
In the year 1680, Priest Nincho made proposal to the 38th head priest of Chion-in temple, Banbu about establishing a training hall of Buddhist chant in Shishigatani where is closely associated with Honen. Hondo hall was completed in 1681, followed by other buildings.
In the year 1953, The temple became independent of Jodo-shu sect.
How to get to Honen-in
From Kyoto Station: Take Kyoto City Bus 5 bound for Iwakura and get off at Jodo-ji bus stop then walk toward the hill for 10minutes.
From Shijo Kawaramachi: Take Kyoto City Bus 32 bound for Ginkaku-ji Mae and get off at Minamida-cho bus stop then walk toward the hill for 5 minutes.
From Ginkaku-ji temple: 5 minutes on foot.
Hours and Admission
06:00 to 16:00
Free for admission to the precinct but admission to the buildings will
Note that the buildings are to be open to public April 1 through 7 and November 1 to 7 only.
Click on photos for full image.