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World Heritage / Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto

Criteria: (ii) (iv) | Date of Inscription: 1994 | Location: Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures | Justification for Inscription

UNESCO

Things to see

Hongan-ji

Hongan-ji Temple
Hongan-ji Temple
Karamon (Karamon Gate)
Karamon (Karamon Gate)
Amida do (Amida Hall)
Amida do (Amida Hall)
Entrance
Entrance
Garden
Garden
Hongan-ji Temple is located in the Shimogyo-ku of Kyoto City and belongs to the Jodoshinshu sect of Japanese Buddhism. It is also the head temple of the Hongan-ji school of the Jodhoshinshu sect under which its official name is "Hongan-ji" although it is commonly called "Nishi Hongan-ji."
After the death of the priest Shinran in 1272 his daughter, Kakushin-ni, constructed a temple in the current Higashiyama district in which to place his remains - the original Hongan-ji Temple. Despite being destroyed in a conflict the third chief priest Kakunyo reconstructed the temple and named it Senshu-ji. Later it was renamed Hongan-ji and when, in 1591, the temple received a donation of land from Toyotomi Hideyoshi it relocated to the current address.
In 1602 the 12th chief priest Kyonyo of Hongan-ji Temple was given the land situated to the east of Hongan-ji Temple by Tokugawa Ieyasu causing the temple to be split into two. Kyonyo founded Higashi (East) Hongan-ji while the original Hongan-ji was now called "Nishi Hongan-ji."
Nishi Hongan-ji Temple today contains many structures and gardens which represent the artistic Momoyama culture. The Goeido (Goei Hall) is currently under repair as part of the "Large Scale Heisei Era Renovation;" only the second period of large scale repair work following the "Large-Scale Kansei Era Renovation" in 1800.
Karamon (Karamon Gate)
There is a famous saying for anyone considering a new venture in Japan: "Have you the courage to dive from the terrace of Kiyomizu?" The terrace, part of the main building of Kiyomizu Temple, is 15m in height and beyond the trees can be seen the fine views of Kyoto city, especially breathtaking at the time the cherry blossoms are coming into bloom or the autumn leaves are starting to change. Using a total of 172 giant pillars and not one nail this terrace is actually built into a steep hillside and during the Edo-era, those who made a vow to the deity often dove into the air from the terrace. A ban on such leaps was later imposed - in 1872.
Hiunkaku (Flying Cloud Pavilion)
Said to be one of Kyoto's three great pavilions (the other two being Kinkaku and Ginkaku), the Hiunkaku is a three-storied building and a part of Jurakudai, constructed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The hipped roof and Chinese gables are set symmetrically on the first story and despite the irregular layout each part of the pavilion is skillfully designed to fit in with the others.
Amida do (Amida Hall)
The Amida do was constructed in 1760 and is 37m from east to west, 42m from north to south and 24m in height. A wooden Amidanyoraizo statue is placed in its center with the statues at its left and right being of the seven great priests of India, China, and Japan. Former Prince Shotoku has his statue here.
Goeido (Goei Hall)
The Goeido was constructed in 1636 and measures 45m by 57m and stands 29m in height. A wooden statue of the priest Shinran is at the center with statues of former chief priests to its left and right. Main temple events are held in this hall.
Shoin (study room)
Most of Hongan-ji's shoin was designed and put together from 1624 to 1643. A meeting room called the "Ko-no-ma" is located in the southern part of the shoin and other meeting rooms named "Gan-no-ma" and "Kiku-no-ma" are in the western portion while the "Shiroshoin" study room is to the north of the design. These meeting rooms were initially separate from the Shiroshoin but were later combined. Each of the rooms was built in the detailed Shoinzukuri style.
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