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 temple 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 established 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.

Chionin also has two gardens. The Hojo Garden is built alongside the priest's living quarters behind the Miedo Hall. 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. It is a 10 minute walk from the nearest subway station, Higashiyama Station on the Tozai Line (15 minutes, 260 yen from Kyoto Station) or a 5 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

    • Ryugin
      Ryugin is a luxurious ryokan with only two Japanese suite guestrooms in the secluded alleyway of Gion. Walking distance to Kiyomizudera and Yasaka Shrine.
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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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    • Kyonoyado Gekkoan
      Luxury
      Set in the Nakagyo Ward district in Kyoto, Kyonoyado Gekkoan offers an equipped accommodation with an balcony and free WiFi. The property is 1.1 km from Nijo Castle. This holiday home comes with a kitchenette with a microwave and a toaster, a flat-screen TV, a seating area and a bathroom with a bath. A vegetarian or continental breakfast is available daily at the property. Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.1 km from the holiday home. Osaka Itami Airport is 37 km from the property.
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    • Mitsuki Kyoto
      Budget-friendly
      Set in Kyoto, 600 metres from Kyoto International Manga Museum and 1.4 km from the centre, Mitsuki Kyoto offers air-conditioned accommodation with free WiFi, and a garden. This 2-star ryokan offers full-day security and luggage storage space. The accommodation provides a concierge service and a housekeeping service for guests. The units in the ryokan are equipped with a kettle. There is a private bathroom with bidet in every unit, along with slippers, a hair dryer and free toiletries. At the ryokan, the units are equipped with bed linen and towels. The ryokan serves a vegetarian and vegan breakfast and breakfast in the room is also available. A bar can be found on-site. Nijo Castle is 1.1 km from Mitsuki Kyoto, while Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall is 1.8 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 46 km from the accommodation.
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    • ZQXgnEX Rokkon guest house
      Budget-friendly
      ZQXgnEX Rokkon guest house features accommodation located less than 1 km from the centre of Kyoto and offers a garden and a terrace. This 2-star guest house offers a 24-hour front desk and full-day security. The accommodation provides a hot tub, free WiFi throughout the property and family rooms. At the guest house, all units include a private bathroom. A minimarket is available at the guest house. Guests at the guest house will be able to enjoy activities in and around Kyoto, like cycling. Popular points of interest near ZQXgnEX Rokkon guest house include Kyoto International Manga Museum, Nijo Castle and Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 46 km from the accommodation.
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    • Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS
      Budget-friendly
      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 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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    • Guesthouse Engawa
      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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    • 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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    • Yado Kiramachi
      Luxury
      Yado Kiramachi offers accommodation set 600 metres from the centre of Kyoto and provides a garden and a terrace. The air-conditioned accommodation is 600 metres from Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall. The ryokan features family rooms. Certain units in the ryokan have private entrance and are equipped with desk and wardrobe. With a private bathroom, units at the ryokan also have free WiFi, while selected rooms will provide you with a balcony. At the ryokan, some units are soundproof. A bar can be found on-site. Kyoto International Manga Museum is 1.3 km from the ryokan, while Gion Shijo Station is 1.6 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 45 km from Yado Kiramachi.
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    • Guesthouse HANA Nishijin
      Mid-range
      Guesthouse HANA Kyoto is located in Kyoto, 300 metres from Kitano Tenmangu and 1.2 km from Kinkaku-ji Temple. A simple complimentary breakfast service is provided for guests. Bathroom facilities are shared. Guesthouse HANA Kyoto features free WiFi throughout the property. There is a shared kitchen and a common area with a TV at the property. Nijo Castle is 2.1 km from Guesthouse HANA Kyoto, while Imperial Palace is 2.3 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from Guesthouse HANA Kyoto.
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Experiences around Kyoto

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