Nishi Hongan-ji Temple (Hiunkaku,location,history)

Nishi Hongan-ji Temple, Hiunkaku

The information about Nishi Hongan-ji Temple is presented here. Nishi Hongan-ji Temple was added to the list of World Heritage Sites in 1994 as a “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)”. Nishi Hongan-ji Temple is said to have built Hiunkaku (National Treasure) between 1573 and 1614. Hiunkaku is one of the “Three Pavilions of Kyoto” along with Kinkaku (Golden Pavilion) of Kinkaku-ji Temple and Ginkaku (Silver Pavilion) of Ginkaku-ji Temple. It is said that the name “Hiunkaku” comes from the fact that the pillars are thin and there are many shoji (paper sliding doors) that look like clouds floating in the sky.

【Nishi Hongan-ji Temple Location Map & Directions】

Address: 60 Monzen-machi, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Access (How to get there): Nishi Honganji mae bus stop (about 2 minutes on foot), Subway Gojo station (about 10 minutes on foot), JR Kyoto Station (about 18 minutes on foot)

【Opening Hours & Closed (confirmation required)】

Opening Hours: 5:30-17:00 (Nov.-Feb.) , 5:30-17:30 (Mar.-Apr., Sep.-Oct.), 5:30-18:00 (May.-Aug.)
Closed: open year round

【Entrance Fees & Tickets (confirmation required)】

Not specified. Contributions are accepted.

【Nishi Hongan-ji Temple History】

Nishi Hongan-ji Temple (Nishi Hongwan-ji Temple, 西本願寺) was founded in 1272 when Shinran Shonin’s youngest daughter, Kakushin-ni, with the cooperation of his disciples in the Kanto area, built a hexagonal mausoleum (Otani Byodo) on the west side of Otani, north side of Yoshimizu, where she had donated the land, and housed the statue of Shinran Shonin, and reburied his remains, which had been kept in a stone pagoda in Otani (Moto-Otani). Incidentally, Shinran Shonin, the founder of the Jodo Shinshu sect, died on November 28th, 1263 at the age of 90. Shinran Shonin died at his younger brother Jinu’s Zenpo-bo at Sanjo Tominokoji, under the care of Jinu and Kakushin-ni, and his remains were buried in a stone pagoda built at Moto-Otani. In 1274, Kakushin-ni became the first rusu-shiki to guard Otani Byodo. The position of rusu-shiki was assumed by a descendant of Kakushin-ni with the approval of Shinran Shonin’s disciples. In 1321, the name of the temple was changed from “Senju-ji” to “Hongan-ji” due to protests from Enryaku-ji Temple, the main temple of the Tendai sect. It was burnt down in 1336 by the military fire of Ashikaga Takauji, the first shogun of the Muromachi shogunate. Goeido and Amidado were built in 1438. In 1465, Hongan-ji Temple was destroyed by Enryaku-ji Temple during the Kansho-no-honan. After that, Rennyo, the 8th head of Nishi Hongan-ji Temple, moved from place to place, and housed the statue of Shinran Shonin in Chikamatsu-bosha in Otsu (Shiga Prefecture), and in 1471, he went to Yoshizaki in Echizen (Fukui Prefecture). In 1478, Rennyo built Yamashina Hongan-ji Temple in Yamashina, Kyoto, and in 1480, Goeido was rebuilt, followed by Amidado and other temple buildings. In 1496, Rennyo built Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple in Ishiyama, Osaka. In 1532, Yamashina Hongan-ji was burned down by Rokkaku Sadayori and the Nichiren sect, and from the following year 1533, the base of the temple was transferred to Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple. In 1570, Oda Nobunaga ordered Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple to leave Ishiyama, resulting in the Ishiyama Kassen (Ishiyama War), which lasted about 11 years. Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple was defeated in the Ishiyama Kassen (Ishiyama War) and made peace with Oda Nobunaga in 1580. Through the mediation of the 106th Emperor Ogimachi, Kennyo, the 11th head of Nishi Hongan-ji Temple, moved to Saginomori, Kii (Wakayama Prefecture) and then to Gansen-ji Temple in Izumi (Osaka Prefecture). In 1582, Toyotomi Hideyoshi donated the temple grounds in Osaka-Tenma and Nishi Hongan-ji Temple was moved there, and in 1591, Toyotomi Hideyoshi also donated the temple grounds in Horikawa-Rokujo, Kyoto and Nishi Hongan-ji Temple was moved there, and in 1592, Goeido and Amidado were completed. In 1596, a great earthquake destroyed Goeido and other temple buildings, but Amidado was not damaged. Goeido was rebuilt the following year in 1597.
In 1602, Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo shogunate, donated the temple grounds to Kyonyo, the son of Kennyo, and East Hongan-ji Temple was built on the east side of Nishi Hongan-ji Temple. In 1617, a fire broke out in a bath and destroyed Goeido, Amidado, and other temple buildings. In 1618, Amidado was built as a temporary structure, and in 1760, Amidado was rebuilt. In 1636, Goeido was rebuilt. In 1639, Gakuryo (Ryukoku University) was completed. In 1876, Kosho-ji Temple became independent as the Shinshu Koshoji School and transferred part of the Nishi Hongan-ji Temple grounds to Kosho-ji Temple.
*reference・・・Nishi Hongan-ji Temple website

【Nishi Hongan-ji Temple Highlights (May be undisclosed)】

★Goeido (Goeido Hall, 御影堂. National Treasure) was rebuilt in 1636. Goeido is about 62 meters from north to south, 48 meters from east to west, and 29 meters high. Goeido houses the statue of Shinran Shonin, the founder of the Jodo Shinshu sect.
★Amidado (Amidado Hall, 阿弥陀堂. National Treasure) was rebuilt in 1760. Amidado is about 45 meters from north to south, about 42 meters from east to west, and about 25 meters high. Amidado houses the statue of Amida Nyorai.
★Kara-mon (Kara-mon Gate, 唐門, National Treasure) was built in Fushimi Castle between 1573 and 1614, and is said to have been moved from Fushimi Castle in 1618. Kara-mon is decorated with colorful carvings of clouds, kirin, peonies, karajishi (lion), bamboo, and tigers on the east, west, south, and north sides. The carvings are so magnificent that one forgets that the sun is setting, and Kara-mon is called Higurashi-mon, one of the seven wonders of Nishi Hongan-ji Temple.
西本願寺見どころ(Nishi Hongan-ji Temple Highlights)

【Events (confirmation required)】

★Osusu-harai (御煤払) is held every year on December 20th. In Osusu-harait, the dust that has accumulated in Goeido and Amidado over the past year is removed. It is said that Osusu-harai is an event to celebrate the safety of a year.
★Kenka-ten (献菊展) is held every year when the chrysanthemums are at their best. Kenka-ten is sponsored by the Kyoto Kikueikai and held in the front garden of the Amidado. At Kenka-ten, about several hundred pots of Saga-giku (kiku) and other chrysanthemums carefully grown chrysanthemums are displayed.

【Flower Calendar (cherry blossoms, etc )】

★The best time to see autumn leaves (紅葉) is from late November to early December. Sakasa-Icho, which is said to be 400 years old, is planted in front of Goeido, and a large ginkgo is planted near the Amidado and Goeido-mon Gate, and the scenery of autumn leaves, Goeido, Amidado are beautiful.
(The best time to see the plants depends on the climate of the year.)

【Telephone (Please refrain from making phone calls.)】

Tel: +81-75-371-5181

【Recommended Walking Route】

The recommended walking route from Nishi Hongan-ji Temple is across the JR tracks on the south side to To-ji Temple. Although it is a bit long, a 30-minute walk will take you around the two World Heritage sites. There are also the Kyoto Railway Museum, Kyoto Aquarium, Umekoji Park, etc. in the vicinity of the route, and a side trip is also recommended.

【Remarks(access, parking, disclaimer, etc)】
If you plan to visit Nishi Hongan-ji Temple, be sure to check the latest information.


  1. 錦市場(Nishiki Market)
  2. 竹林の道(Bamboo Forest Path)
  3. 嵐山