Honen-in temple

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 be charged.
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.

Stone steps to Somon gate Somon gate Stone steps toward Sanmon gate
Gentle stone steps to Somon gate.
November 18, 2007
Somon gate
November 18, 2007
Gentle stone steps from Somon gate toward Sanmon gate.
November 18, 2007
The approach from Somon gate to Sanmon gate Sanmon gate Mounds of white sand
The approach from Somon gate to Sanmon gate.
November 18, 2007
Sanmon gate. On the left is old stone marker on which Kanji (Chinese characters) are inscribed. It reads that no garlic, meat, or alcohol are allowed to be brought inside of the Sanmon.
November 18, 2007
On the both side of the approach to the temple buildings are mounds of white sand that are called Byakusadan. These symbolize water that cleans your body and mind. Patterns on the top of the mounds are changed every four to five days.
November 18, 2007
Partially colored foliage over Sanmon gate Stone bridge over Hojo-ike pond Closed Sanmon gate
The foliage has just started to change its color.
November 18, 2007
Stone bridge over Hojo-ike pond.
November 18, 2007
The gate was closed at 16:00.
November 4, 2000
Moss-covered fountain Jizo-do Bussoku-seki
Moss-covered fountain in the garden of Honen-in. You may notice carefully placed flowers and autumn leaves on the lower body of the fountain.
November 26, 2000
Jizo-do, a cave for Jizo Buddhist image. The image was cast by a caster called Chikugo by an order of priest Nincho in 1690.
November 18, 2007
Bussoku-seki, a stone on which feet of Buddha are carved.
November 18, 2007
Stone pavement Hondo hall The belfry
Stone pavement.
November 18, 2007
Hondo hall.
November 18, 2007
The belfry
November 18, 2007