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Chionin (m@) is the head temple of the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism, which has millions of followers and is one of the most popular Buddhist sects in Japan. The temple has spacious grounds and large buildings. Visitors will surely notice the temple when they come across its massive Sanmon Gate.

The Sanmon Gate, Chionin's main entrance gate, is located alongside the road between Maruyama Park and Shorenin Temple. Standing 24 meters tall and 50 meters wide, it is the largest wooden gate in Japan and dates back to the early 1600s. The gate's balcony is not open to the public. Behind the gate a wide set of stairs leads to the main temple grounds.

At the center of Chionin is an open area with stone paths connecting the temple's main buildings. The massive Miedo Hall houses the temple's principle object of worship: a statue of the priest Honen, who founded the Jodo sect. Nearby is the Amidado Hall, which houses a statue of Amida Buddha, the most important Buddha in the Jodo sect.

The priest Honen was initially a follower of the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism at the mountain temple of Enryakuji Temple. Buddhism during Honen's time was limited to monks and aristocrats, and was not available to commoners who did not have the resources or learning to partake in Buddhist rituals and ceremonies. In 1175, Honen was introduced to Chinese texts that claimed the possibility of salvation by simply proclaiming faith in the Buddha Amida, and soon after he founded the Jodo sect.

The central premise of the new sect was that the Buddhist deity Amida had created a paradise that anyone could enter after death. One needed only to recite the name of Amida in faith. Jodo literally means "pure land" and refers to Amida's paradise. The new sect gave common people the same opportunity for salvation as priests or aristocrats. The Jodo sect became very popular among the masses, but also met with opposition from the already established Buddhist sects.

Beyond the Miedo there is a path that leads up the hillside to a number of small buildings. The Seishido Hall is the oldest building on the temple grounds, dating back to 1530. There is also a mausoleum that contains the ashes of Honen. Elsewhere on the grounds is a massive bell that was the largest in the world from the 17th to the 19th century, as well as a few other buildings and two gardens.

The Hojo Garden is located behind the Miedo Hall and is built alongside the priest's living quarters. It is a traditional Japanese garden that was designed by a monk in the mid 1600s. The Yuzen Garden is located just beside the Sanmon Gate and was designed in modern times. It includes both rock and pond gardens and is built along a slight incline.

Getting there and around

Chionin is located just north of Maruyama Park and Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto's Higashiyama District.

The temple is also a ten minute walk from the nearest subway station, Higashiyama Station on the Tozai Line (15 minutes, 260 yen from Kyoto Station), or a five minute walk from the nearest bus stop, Chionin-mae bus stop (20 minutes, 230 yen from Kyoto Station by Kyoto City Bus 206).

How to get to and around Kyoto

Hours and Fees

Chionin Temple

Hours

Closed

Admission

Hojo and Yuzen Gardens

Hours

Closed

Admission

Hotels around Kyoto

Top rated in Kyoto
Budget:
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      Budget-friendly
      Guesthouse Engawa offers accommodation in Kyoto. Guests can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of Kyoto in their rooms. Each comes with a flat-screen TV, and an electric kettle will be provided upon request. Bathroom facilities are shared with other guests. Free toiletries and hairdryers are also available. There is luggage storage space at the property. Kiyomizu-dera Temple is 600 metres from Guesthouse Engawa, while Heian Shrine is 2.4 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS
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      Located in Kyoto, this traditional Japanese guest house features free Wi-Fi and a free public computer. Shichijo Onmae bus stop is 3 minutesf walk away. A seating area and shared bathroom are provided with each room at Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS. Free toiletries are provided and blankets are available upon request. Select rooms have a garden view. A shared living area and bicycles are available for guestsf use during their stay at this Kyoto Guesthouse Compass. Access to the shared kitchen is available upon request. The guest house is 4.5 km from Imperial Palace and 2.2 km from Kyoto Station. Nijo Castle and Toji Castle are within a 30 minutesf bus ride away.
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    • Ryokan Mugen (Adult Only)
      Luxury
      Mugen is a property that was built 160 years ago, situated in Kyoto, 1 km from Nijo Castle. Every room at Mugen features an en suite shower room, toilet, free toiletries and a hairdryer. Free WiFi is available throughout the entire property. You will find a shared lounge on site and a bar at the annex building. The ryokan also offers bike hire. Imperial Palace is 1.1 km from Mugen, while Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is 1.6 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Gallery Nozawa Inn
      Budget-friendly
      Gallery Nozawa Inn offers accommodation in Kyoto, 25 minutes on foot from JR Kyoto Station. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Every room includes a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. Each room is equipped with a private toilet, and bathrooms are shared. For your comfort, you will find free toiletries and a hairdryer. There is luggage storage space at the property. Guests can sample Japanese-style breakfast featuring seasonal ingredients. There is a public bathhouse located a 10-minute walk away. Nijo Castle is 2.4 km from Gallery Nozawa Inn, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.4 km from the property. Osaka Itami Airport is 36 km away.
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    • Guesthouse tu casa
      Budget-friendly
      Attractively located in the Higashiyama Ward district of Kyoto, Guesthouse tu casa is situated 1.2 km from Sanjusangen-do Temple, 1.4 km from Kiyomizu-dera Temple and 1.9 km from TKP Garden City Kyoto. Among the facilities at this property are a shared kitchen and a shared lounge, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The guest house has family rooms. At the guest house rooms are equipped with a shared bathroom. Samurai Kembu Kyoto is 2.2 km from Guesthouse tu casa, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.8 km from the property. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 38 km from the accommodation.
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    • SHIN TERRACE & HOSTEL KYOTO
      Budget-friendly
      Open in September 2017, SHIN TERRACE & HOSTEL KYOTO offers accommodation with a rooftop terrace, just a 3-minute walk from JR Tanbaguchi Station. Free WiFi is provided throughout the property. Nijo Castle is 2.1 km away. You will find luggage storage space at the property. An art exhibition and various events are organised at the property. Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.4 km from SHIN TERRACE & HOSTEL KYOTO, while Katsura Imperial Villa is 3.2 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 36 km from SHIN TERRACE & HOSTEL KYOTO.
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    • Guest House Oumi
      Budget-friendly
      Well set in Kyoto, Guest House Oumi provides air-conditioned rooms, a shared lounge, free WiFi and a garden. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace. The accommodation offers a shared kitchen and room service for guests. At the guest house every room comes with a shared bathroom with free toiletries. A continental breakfast is available daily at guesthouseoumi. Nijo Castle is less than 1 km from the accommodation, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.2 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 37 km from Guest House Oumi.
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    • Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandereverie
      Luxury
      Ideally situated in the Shimogyo Ward district of Kyoto, Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandereverie is situated 1.3 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum, 1.9 km from Samurai Kembu Kyoto and 2.3 km from TKP Garden City Kyoto. Among the facilities at this property are a 24-hour front desk and a concierge service, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The hotel has family rooms. The hotel will provide guests with air-conditioned rooms offering a wardrobe, a kettle, a fridge, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a bidet. At Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandere the rooms have bed linen and towels. An American breakfast is available each morning at the accommodation. Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandereverie offers a terrace. Shoren-in Temple is 2.7 km from the hotel, while Nijo Castle is 2.8 km from the property. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 38 km from Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandere.
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    • IMAYA Hostel Kyoto
      Budget-friendly
      Attractively situated in the centre of Kyoto, IMAYA Hostel Kyoto features air-conditioned rooms, a bar, free WiFi and a shared lounge. The property is around less than 1 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum, a 16-minute walk from Nijo Castle and 2.4 km from Samurai Kembu Kyoto. The accommodation provides a shared kitchen, a concierge service and ticket service for guests. All guest rooms at the hostel are fitted with a flat-screen TV and a kitchenette. The rooms have a shared bathroom, slippers and bed linen. Kyoto Imperial Palace is 2.9 km from IMAYA Hostel Kyoto, while Heian Shrine is 3.1 km from the property. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 38 km from the accommodation.
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    • Ryokan Tori
      Mid-range
      Ryokan Tori is located in Kyoto, 2 km from Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. The property is around 2.3 km from Nijo Castle and Kyoto Imperial Palace. The property is 3.2 km from Kinkaku-ji Temple and 3.7 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum. All guest rooms in the ryokan are fitted with a kettle. Each room has a shared bathroom, while selected rooms are fitted with a balcony and others also offer a garden view. All rooms will provide guests with a fridge. Guests at tori can enjoy an Asian breakfast. Heian Shrine is 5 km from the accommodation. Itami Airport is 50 km from the property.
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