Chion-in Temple in Kyoto

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Domo arigato.
  • Sanmon Gate of the Chionin Temple in Kyoto

    Sanmon Gate of the Chionin Temple In Kyoto

  • Sanmon Gate of the Chionin Temple in Kyoto

    Sanmon Gate of the Chionin Temple In Kyoto

  • Sanmon Gate of the Chionin Temple in Kyoto

    Sanmon Gate of the Chionin Temple In Kyoto

  • Sanmon Gate of the Chionin Temple in Kyoto

    Sanmon Gate of the Chionin Temple In Kyoto

  • Sanmon Gate of the Chionin Temple in Kyoto

    Sanmon Gate of the Chionin Temple In Kyoto

  • Sanmon Gate of the Chionin Temple in Kyoto

    Sanmon Gate of the Chionin Temple In Kyoto

  • 800 Year Old Camphor Tree Shoren-in Temple

    800 Year Old Camphor Tree Shoren-in Temple

  • 800 Year Old Camphor Tree Shoren-in Temple

    800 Year Old Camphor Tree Shoren-in Temple

  • Pond Chion-in Temple in Kyoto

    Pond Chion-in Temple Kyoto

  • Chion-in Temple in Kyoto

    Chion-in Temple Kyoto

  • Nijugo Bosatu-no-niwa of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Nijugo Bosatu-no-niwa, Chion-in

  • Nijugo Bosatu-no-niwa of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Nijugo Bosatu-no-niwa, Chion-in

  • Nijugo Bosatu-no-niwa of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Nijugo Bosatu-no-niwa, Chion-in

  • Ogane Large Bell of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Ogane Large Bell, Chion-in

  • Ogane Large Bell of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Ogane Large Bell, Chion-in

  • Ogane Large Bell of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Ogane Large Bell, Chion-in

  • Ohojo Large Guest House of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Ohojo Large Guest House, Chion-in

  • Ohojo Large Guest House of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Ohojo Large Guest House, Chion-in

  • Yuzen-en Garden With Kannon Statue, Chion-in in Kyoto

    Yuzen-en Garden With Kannon Statue, Chion-in

  • Yuzen-en Garden With Kannon Statue, Chion-in in Kyoto

    Yuzen-en Garden, Chion-in

  • Yuzen-en Garden of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Yuzen-en Garden, Chion-in

  • Yuzen-en Garden of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Yuzen-en Garden, Chion-in

  • Yuzensai Miyazaki Bronze Statue, Chion-in in Kyoto

    Yuzensai Miyazaki Bronze Statue, Chion-in

  • Hakuju-an Tea House, Chion-in in Kyoto

    Hakuju-an Tea House, Chion-in

  • Hakuju-an Tea House, Yuzen-en Garden of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Hakuju-an Tea House, Yuzen-en Garden

  • Hakuju-an Tea House, Yuzen-en Garden of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Hakuju-an Tea House, Yuzen-en Garden

  • Yuzen-en Garden of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Yuzen-en Garden, Chion-in

  • Stairs Leading To The Upper Part of Chion-in Temple in Kyoto

    Stairs Leading To The Upper Part of Chion-in

  • Statue Of Monk Honen, Chion-in in Kyoto

    Statue Of Monk Honen, Chion-in

  • Seishido (Seishi Hall), Chion-in in Kyoto

    Seishido (Seishi Hall), Chion-in

  • Amitabha Golden Statue of Amidado Hall, Chion-in in Kyoto

    Amitabha Golden Statue, Amidado Hall, Chion-in

  • Amidado Hall of Chion-in Temple in Kyoto

    Amidado Hall, Chion-in

  • Amidado Hall of Chion-in Temple in Kyoto

    Amidado Hall, Chion-in

  • Stone Lantern Infront Amidado Hall, Chion-in Temple in Kyoto

    Stone Lantern Infront Amidado Hall, Chion-in

  • Kara-mon Gate, Chion-in Temple in Kyoto

    Kara-mon Gate, Chion-in

  • Rei-to Pagoda, Chion-in Temple in Kyoto

    Rei-to Pagoda, Chion-in

  • Makuzu-an Tea House of Chion-in Temple in Kyoto

    Makuzu-an Tea House, Chion-in

  • Shakyo-to Pagoda of Chion-in Temple in Kyoto

    Shakyo-to Pagoda, Chion-in

  • Hai-den Hall of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Hai-den Hall, Chion-in

  • Shue-do Hall of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Shue-do Hall, Chion-in

  • Shue-do Hall of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Shue-do Hall, Chion-in

  • Shin-genkan of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Shin-genkan, Chion-in

  • Nokotsu-do Hall of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Nokotsu-do Hall, Chion-in

  • Hobutsu-den Hall of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Hobutsu-den Hall, Chion-in

  • Kyozo Sutra Repository of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Kyozo Sutra Repository, Chion-in

  • Kyozo Sutra Repository of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Kyozo Sutra Repository, Chion-in

  • Hojo Garden of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Hojo Garden, Chion-in

  • Kita-mon (North Gate) of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Kita-mon (North Gate), Chion-in

  • Miei-do hall of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Miei-do Hall - under construction until 2019, Chion-in

  • Miei-do hall of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Miei-do Hall - under construction until 2019, Chion-in

  • Miei-do hall of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Inside Miei-do Hall - under construction until 2019, Chion-in

  • Gongen-do Hall of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Gongen-do Hall, Chion-in

  • Kuro-mon Gate of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Kuro-mon Gate, Chion-in

  • Stone Wall of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Stone Wall, Chion-in

  • Small Bell Tower of Chion-in in Kyoto

    Small Bell Tower, Chion-in

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Facts & Figures

The Chion-in Temple in Kyoto is the head temple of the Jodo (Pure Land) sect of Japanese Buddhism. The sect has millions of followers and Chion-in is one of the most sacred and most popular temples in Japan. At the entrance you are greeted by the largest temple gate in Japan. The so called San-mon Gate is with a height of 24 meters and a width of 50 meters a really impressive sight. Best Ryokans in Kyoto Explore Ryokans in Kyoto
Ryokans are the perfect way to discover old Japanese culture and traditions.
The temple complex consists of 106 buildings and is located at the foot of Mt. Kachozan. 12 buildings have been designated as Important Cultural Properties or National Treasures by the Japanese government. 2 gardens (Hojo and Yuzen-en) are open for the public and these are my must-see recommendations for you. Last but not least the heaviest temple bell (74 tons) in Japan is rung on New Year’s Eve at Chion-in. The temple is located in a walkable distance from Shorenin Temple and Maruyama Park.

  • Chion-in Temple Grounds:
  • Opening Hours - daily from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm (last entry 3:50 pm)
  • Admission Fee - free
  • Hojo Garden + Yuzen-en Garden:
  • Opening Hours - 9:00 am to 4:30 pm (last entry 3:50pm)
  • Admission Fee - Both Gardens - 500 yen (Adults), 250 yen (Children)

History

Chion-in is linked to Honen (1133 - 1212), the founder of the Jodo Shu (Pure Land Sect) of Buddhism. The original temple was built in 1234 by Honen's principle Genchi (1183 – 1238). Chion-in was in the past destroyed by earthquakes and fires. An especially harmful fire happened in 1633. Most of the buildings you see today like Ohojo, Mieido Hall and Kohojo were rebuilt after that fire. The reconstruction phase took till 1641. Chion-in is since 1523 the head temple of the Jodo Shu. Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543 - 1616) was a follower of the sect and he and his family clan participated greatly in the further development of Chion-in.

Location

Map of Japan

Chion-in is located in Kyoto north of Maruyama Park and Yasaka Shrine within the Higashiyama district.
Address: Chion-in 400 Rinka-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-8686 Japan

How to get to Chionin Temple?

  • 20min from Kyoto Station to Chionin-mae bus stop by Kyoto City Bus 206

Sightseeing spots

most important places of Chionin:

San-mon Gate (main gate) - It is the largest wooden temple gate in Japan and was constructed during the Edo era by Hidetada Tokugawa (1579 - 1632) in 1621. The San-mon Gate has the status of a National Treasure. It belongs to the three greatest temple gates in Japan. The other 2 can be found at Kuon-ji Temple (Minobu, Yamanashi Prefecture) and Nanzen-ji (Kyoto). The special roof style is called Irimoya-zukuri. It consists of more than 70000 tiles.

Mieido - The huge hall is housing the image of the founder Honen (1133 - 1212). At the moment Mieido, a National Treasure, is undergoing a major restoration until 2019. It serves as the center of the Chion-in temple grounds and was reconstructed by Iemitsu Tokugawa (1604 - 1651) during the Edo era in 1639.

Shue-do (assembly hall) - The hall received the status of an Important Cultural Property and was constructed during the Edo era in 1635.

Kyozo (sutra repository) - Kyozo was constructed in 1621 and has the status of an important cultural property.

Amida-do Hall - Amida-do houses the image of Amitabha (Amida Nyorai).

Ohojo - The buidling, an important cultural property, is dating back to 1641 and was used as a large guest house.

Kohojo - Kohojo was used as small guest house and constructed in 1641. It has been designated as an important cultural property by the Japanese government.

Kara-mon Gate - The Chinese-style gate is a important cultural property and was constructed in 1641.

Daishoro (large bell tower) - Daishoro belongs to the 3 greatest bells in Japan. The other 2 can be found at Todai-ji (Nara) and Hoko-ji (Kyoto). This important cultural property was constructed during the Edo period in 1678.

Seishi-do hall - The hall is an important cultural property and the oldest building of the temple complex. It was reconstructed in 1530 (Muromachi era) and can be found in the upper part of the temple grounds.

Haiden (worship hall) - Haiden hall was built during the Edo period in 1710.

Gobyo (Honen’s mausoleum) - It was constructed during the Edo era in 1613. My tip: The location of Gobyo offers you amazing views over Kyoto.

Hojo Garden - This traditional Japanese Garden with the Shinji Pond at its center is dating back to 1641 and was designed by Buddhist monk So-Gyokuen. Hojo Garden can be found right behind the Mieido Hall.

Yuzen-en Garden - The garden was largely refurbished in 1954 in commemoration of Miyazaki Yuzen’s 300th birthday, the founder of the Yuzen style of dyeing.

Seven Wonders of Chionin - Try to find these century old items during your visit:

1. Wasuregasa (a forgotten umbrella) - You will find the leftover of this umbrella infront of the Mieido hall. There are two legends about the origin of the umbrella. A master carpenter with the name Hidari Jingoro forgot it there or a white fox gave it as a reward. He had to leave this location, once the construction of Mieido started, but the monk promised him to build a new shelter and he did.

2. Uguisu-bari no Roka (unique hallway) - Mieido Hall, Shue-do (assembly hall) and Kohojo are connected by these corridors. These wooden corridors were used as an alarm system. When you walk on them they make a sound similar to a nightingale.

3. Nuke-suzume (A picture of sparrows) - The famous artist Kano Nobumasa painted those birds on a sliding door (fusuma-e), but you can’t see them anymore. There is only a litte mark left and it said the birds flew away:)

4. Sanpo Shomen Mamuki-no-Neko (picture of a cat) - You will find this painting at the Japanese cedar door within the Ohojo building. It doesn’t matter from which angle you look at the picture, but it always seems that the cat is starring in your direction.

5. Uryuseki (a big stone) - Many legends are related to this stone, which is located right infront of the Kuro-mon (gate). The stone is guarded by a fence.

6. Oshakushi - This large and unique rice paddle is 2,5m long with an weight of 30kg.

7. Shiraki-no-hitsugi (plainwood coffin) - On the upper floor of the San-mon Gate are the coffins of the architects (Kinuemon and his wife) located. According to the history books they committed suicide after the construction was over.

Festival & Events (dates can change without notice)

April

Gyoki Daie (Memorial Service for Hōnen) (18th till 25th)
This is the most important ceremony at the Chionin Temple including various events like the flower offering ceremony.

May

Aoi Matsuri (15th)
The highlight of this festival is a large parade from Imperial Palace through Shimogamo Shrine to the Kamo Shrines. More than 500 people wearing aristocratic costumes from the Heian Period (794 - 1185). The Aoi Matsuri belongs with the Gion Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri to the three most famous festivals in Kyoto.

Arashiyama Mifune Matsuri (third Sunday of May)
The first part is held at the Kuramazaki Shrine. Later a procession is leading to the Oi River, where more ceremonies and traditional dances (Funa Asobi) are held. The Arashiyama Mifune Matsuri started in 1914.

July

Gion Matsuri (whole month)
The month July is full of different events like the Yoiyama - Kyoto's Magical Night (locals in kimonos look at the giant Gion floats the day before the parade) or the famous Yamaboko Junko (float procession on the 17th of July).

October

Jidai Matsuri ("Festival of Ages") (22nd)
People celebrate with a large parade between Imperial Palace to Heian Shrine the anniversary of the foundation of Kyoto. App. 2000 participants wearing historical costumes from different time periods. Enjoy this great festival which last around 2 hours.

December

Bell Ringing on New Year’s Eve (Joya-no-kane) (31st)
17 monks are needed to hit the bell 108 times.

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