Honen-in Temple

#honenin #philosopherswalk #pureland

The Silver Temple is a “must-see” spot in Kyoto. After you visit it, you might want to have a stroll along the Philosopher’s Walk, and to go to two very famous temples: Eikando and Nanzen-ji. Very close to Philosopher’s Walk, there are some hidden treasures like Honen-in and Anraku-ji Temple. There is also a shrine called Ootoyo-jinja.
As these temples are on the way to Eikando and Nanzenji, I highly recommend you to visit them.


Honen-in is a silent temple, a perfect place to escape from the crowds. It is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (it might change during summer and winter time). It is free of charge.
The temple is dedicated to Honen (法然:1133-1212). Honen was a monk who studied first at Enryaku-ji Temple on Mount Hiei when he was still in his teens. Then he embraced a new doctrine of Jodo, Pure Land, and rejected the Tendai teachings of Enryaku-ji Temple. He built a hut at the present location to pray in front of an Amida sculpture, with his two disciples Anraku and Juren. They used to worship Amida three times a day and three times a night. They performed services at the roofed open-air Amida. The Hondo, Main Hall, was built later, in 1680 under the Tokugawa Shogun. Now the Temple Hondo is open only few days in April and November, from 1 to 7.
The novelist Tanizaki Junichiro (谷崎潤一郎:1886-1965) is buried in the graveyard of Honen-in.

To go to Honen-in from Silver Temple, turn left where Philosopher’s Path starts and follow the stream until the eighth bridge.
You cross the bridge (it is the first wide bridge from Silver Temple) and follow the street up the hill. 

You will find this sign and turn right, and walk about two minutes.

You will see on your left side this stairway to Honen-in Temple. On the right side there is a small playground for children. If you are travelling with children, this could be a nice place where they can play before going to Honen-in.

Approaching Honen-in. It lies in a forest of camellias, cedars.

The gateway with a thatched roof

The gateway with a thatched roof is the entrance to the temple ‘s precincts. At first you ascend the stairs.

From the gate you have the view of the garden. On both sides of the stone path there are two long rectangular sand mounds. The monks rake the sand in beautiful designs. These designs symbolize the seasons with patterns of flowers on one mound, and abstractions,like the flowing of water, on the other mound. You descend the stone stairs to the temple’s ground. The gateway seems a border between the outside and inside world.

Details of one sand mound: plum blossoms and lines

The sound of water from a stone fountain add a mystic feeling.

The garden


Honen-in is a world apart.

I found this sign, the concept of Honen-in Temple