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Nishi Honganji ({莛) and Higashi Honganji ({莛) are two large temples in the center of Kyoto. As headquarters of the two factions of the Jodo-Shin Sect (True Pure Land Sect), one of Japan's largest Buddhist sects, they are a good place to experience contemporary Japanese Buddhism.

Nishi Honganji's Goeido (left) and Amidado (right)

Nishi Honganji (West Honganji) was built in 1591 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, after the sect's former head temple, Ishiyama Honganji in Osaka had been destroyed by Oda Nobunaga due to the temple's interference in politics. Nishi Honganji is the head temple of the Honganji faction of the Jodo-Shin sect with over 10,000 subtemples across the country and 200 temples overseas.

Nishi Honganji's two largest structures are the Goeido Hall, dedicated to Shinran, the sect's founder, and the Amidado Hall dedicated to the Amida Buddha, the most important Buddha in Jodo-Shin Buddhism. The temple also displays some surviving masterpieces of architecture from the Azuchi-Momoyama Period and early Edo Period, including the celebrated Hiunkaku Pavilion. Nishi Honganji is designated an UNESCO world heritage site.

Higashi Honganji's Goeido (center) and Amidado (left)

Higashi Honganji (East Honganji) was built only eleven years after and a few street blocks east of Nishi Honganji as the head temple of the Otani faction of Jodo-shin Buddhism. Its main hall, the Goeido is Kyoto's largest wooden structure and dedicated to Shinran, the sect's founder. Next to it and almost as large is the Amidado Hall, dedicated to the Amida Buddha.

A small Japanese garden named Shoseien is located another few street blocks east of Higashi Honganji and serves as a detached temple residence of Higashi Honganji. Today, the garden with its pond and beautiful autumn colors is open to the public.

Shoseien Garden

Access

The Honganji temples are located a 10-15 minute walk north of Kyoto Station.

How to get to and around Kyoto

Hours & Fees

Nishi Honganji

Hours

5:30 to 17:30 (March, April, September, October)
5:30 to 18:00 (May to August)
5:30 to 17:00 (November to February)

Closed

No closing days

Admission

Free

Higashi Honganji

Hours

5:50 to 17:30 (March to October)
6:20 to 16:30 (November to February)

Closed

No closing days

Admission

Free

Shoseien Garden

Hours

9:00 to 17:00 (March to October)
9:00 to 16:00 (November to February)
Admission ends 30 minutes before closing

Closed

No closing days

Admission

500 yen

Hotels around Kyoto

Recommended Hotels
Backpackers Hostel Ks House Kyoto
One of Kyoto's most popular hostels. A ten minute walk from Kyoto Station.
Book:
Agoda Booking
Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Located inside Kyoto Station, this is Kyoto's most convenient 4-star hotel.
Book:
Agoda Booking
Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel
Elegant luxury hotel located near Sanjusangendo Temple.
Book:
Agoda Booking
Khaosan Kyoto Guest House
Cheap and popular hostel located in the heart of the city near Kawaramachi Station.
Book:
Agoda Booking
New Miyako Hotel Kyoto
Reasonably priced 3-star hotel located just across the street from Kyoto Station.
Book:
Agoda Booking
Royal Park Hotel The Kyoto
Modern hotel along Sanjo Street close to Pontocho and other dining options.
Book:
Agoda Booking

Tours and Experiences

Page last updated: December 8, 2016