Nishi-Honganji Temple

Nishi-Honganji Temple 400
Nishi-Honganji Temple
Photo by: LordAmeth, Creative Commons

You probably know Japan for its technology and gadgets, good quality cars, unique sense of fashion, and its interesting culture. You must have heard that most of its people’s religion is Buddhism, though they admittedly say that they do not practice their belief in their everyday lives. If you go to Kyoto, the former capital of Japan, you will see that there are several different Buddhist temples. One of them is the Nishi-Honganji Temple.

A long time ago, when the Tokugawa shogunate ruled Japan, they divided the Jodo Shinshu (True Pure Land) Buddhist sect into two factions, the Higashi Honganji (“The Eastern Temple of the Original Vow”) and the Nishi Honganji (“The Western temple of the Original Vow”). The shogun’s reason for dividing this sect into two is to decrease its growing power back then.

Today, these two great temples are both located in the central part of Kyoto. If you love Eastern architecture, you will fall in love with the outstanding showcase of Buddhist architecture in the Nishi-Honganji Temple. However, you can only see some parts of the structure, not all of them. You need to make a formal request to be able to take a glimpse at the other parts of the temple that are not usually open to the public.

Inside the main hall, you will see amazing paintings situated on a ground made of gold. There is also a statue of Amida n the main hall. If you go to the side room, you will find the life-like statues of Shotoku-taishi and Ho-nen. But among all the rooms and statues in the temple, you should not miss the Daishi-do or the Founder’s Hall. The room was named as such because this is where the sacred statue of Shinran, the leader of Nishi-Honganji, is located. There is a speculation that the statue was sculpted by Shinran himself, though it is not sure.

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