History of Nishi-Honganji Temple
Designated as the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1994, Nishi-Honganji Temple is the mother temple and headquarters of the "Honganji" faction of Jodo (Pure Land) Shinsyu sect of Buddhism. The Jodo-Shinsyu teaching was established by the Reverend Shinran-shonin (1173-1263) in the Kamakura period. He underwent austere training and hardships in various parts of the country before returning to Kyoto to complete his work, "kyogyoshinsho", or The True teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure land Way on Buddhism. After his demise, his daughter erected a mausoleum at Higashiyama, Kyoto, which became the foundation of Nishi-Honganji Temple today. In the 16th century, it was moved to and re-established at the present location.
Teachings of the sect
Followers of this sect will be reborn in the Pure Land and attain Enlightenment. They will be able to live lives to the fullest, become aware of both potentials and limitations in this world, overcome difficulties and realize happiness within their lifetime.
What you can see in the temple
There are many structures in the precincts, many of which have the status of National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties of Japan. They are: Amidado (Hall of Amida Buddha, built in 1760), Goeido (Founder`s Hall, completed in 1636), Karamon Gate, Shoin Hall, Hiunkaku House (believed to be part of Jurakudai Palace built by a one-time ruler of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi) and others. There is also a 400-year-old huge ginkgo tree called the "upside-down ginkgo tree", because it looks as if its roots were spread into the sky.
How to enjoy
Walk around the entire compound of the temple, have a look at all of the magnificent structures
and trees and imagine the power of Buddhism. You will learn the meanings of life. All that you see will deeply impress you and remain in your memory. You can pray for the peace of mind before the image of the Reverend Shinran-shonin placed in the Buddhist altar inside the halls sitting straight on your legs, or relax on the wooden corridors.
There is no entrance fee, but you are supposed to offer whatever amount of monetary donations to the temple as the expression of your appreciarion.