Chionin Temple

A serene temple with over 800 years of history

Chionin Temple, located at the foot of Higashiyama in Kyoto, is the head temple of the Jodo-Shu (Pure Land Sect) of Buddhism. With its rich history and simple yet powerful architectural design, Chionin Temple offers a unique experience to visitors from around the world. One of the highlights of the temple is its beautiful garden, which provides panoramic views of the city and surrounding area of Kyoto.

Don’t Miss

As you explore Chionin Temple, there are a few sights that you shouldn’t miss. One of them is walking upon a corridor that once warned of intruders by producing the call of nightingales. This unique feature adds an element of surprise and intrigue to the temple visit. Another interesting sight is an ancient umbrella placed in the Mieido to protect it from fire. This umbrella serves as a reminder of the temple’s long history and the efforts made to preserve its treasures. Lastly, make sure to view the two tiles that would complete the Mieido, proof that it remains unfinished. This unfinished aspect adds a sense of mystery and wonder to the temple.

How to Get There

Chionin Temple is easily accessible from JR Kyoto Station. If you prefer to take a taxi, it is only a 15-minute ride from the station. Alternatively, you can take Kyoto City Bus number 206 from JR Kyoto Station and disembark at the Chionin-mae stop. From there, it is just a 5-minute walk to the temple. If you prefer to use public transportation, you can ride the Subway Karasuma line from JR Kyoto Station and transfer to the Tozai line at Karasuma Oike Station. Disembark at Higashiyama Station and walk 8 minutes to arrive at Chionin Temple.

Quick Facts

Chionin Temple was originally constructed in 1234 and later developed under the patronage of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The temple boasts one of the largest wooden gates in all of japan, which is an impressive sight to behold. Additionally, the temple grounds are home to a giant bell that weighs a whopping 70 tons. This bell is rung by a team of monks every New Year’s Eve, creating a powerful and awe-inspiring experience.

The temple flourished under the patronage of the Tokugawa Shoguns

Chionin Temple holds a special place in history as it was founded by the disciples of Honen Shonin, the founder of Jodo-Shu, after his death. The Jodo-Shu of Buddhism teaches that all people can be saved by chanting the “Namu Amida Butsu” prayer. The main temple hall, known as the Mieido, is located on the same site where Honen Shonin originally built his small hermitage to spread the teachings of Jodo-Shu. His remains are enshrined in the mausoleum at the far end of the temple grounds.

During the Tokugawa Shogunate, Chionin Temple experienced a period of significant growth and development. It was designated as the familial temple by Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of the most prominent shoguns in Japanese history. The spirits of three generations of Shoguns, including Tokugawa Ieyasu, Tokugawa Hidetada, and Tokugawa Iemitsu, are enshrined in the Gongen-do mausoleum within the temple grounds.

Today, Chionin Temple is home to multiple national treasures, including the Mieido and the Daishoro (Great Bell Tower). The Mieido is an impressively large structure, measuring 45 meters wide and 35 meters deep. Inside the hall, visitors can admire the intricate carvings of Honen Shonin, separated by the nightingale corridor, which once warned the temple monks of intruders. The Daishoro houses the largest bell in Japan, weighing over 70 tons. Every New Year’s Eve, a team of monks gathers to ring the bell, symbolizing the start of a new year.

One of the largest wooden gates in Japan

The Sanmon, or main gate, of Chionin Temple is a sight to behold. Standing at 24 meters tall and 50 meters wide, it is one of the largest wooden gates in Japan. The roof of the gate is covered with approximately 70,000 tiles, adding to its grandeur and significance. As you pass through the Sanmon, you can’t help but feel a sense of reverence and awe at the scale and beauty of the temple grounds beyond.

A garden with a view

Chionin Temple is not only known for its impressive buildings and structures but also for its beautiful gardens. The Hojo Garden, created during the Edo period, is a masterpiece of landscape design. It has been designated as a National Place of Scenic Beauty due to its careful and deliberate design that makes use of the surrounding scenery. As you ascend the stairs at the rear of the garden, you will find the Santei Garden, offering panoramic views of the city of Kyoto. The combination of the cityscape, the garden, and the temple grounds creates a breathtaking sight, especially during sunset. For those looking for a truly immersive experience, Chionin Temple also offers the option to book overnight stays, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere of the temple.

Surrounded by famous temples and shrines

Chionin Temple is located in a neighborhood that is rich in cultural and historical significance. Within walking distance of the temple grounds, you will find other famous temples and shrines such as Nanzenji Temple, Yasaka-jinja Shrine, and Kiyomizudera Temple. Exploring these nearby sites will give you a deeper understanding of the religious and cultural heritage of Kyoto.

In conclusion, Chionin Temple is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the rich history and cultural heritage of Kyoto. With its centuries-old history, impressive architecture, and beautiful gardens, the temple offers a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you are a history buff, a spiritual seeker, or simply someone who appreciates beauty, Chionin Temple will leave a lasting impression on you. So, make sure to include this serene temple in your itinerary when visiting Kyoto.

Address And Maps Location:

400 Rinka-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu

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