OWL Magazine Korea

Higashi Honganji Temple near Kyoto Station

If you exit Kyoto Station, pass by Kyoto Tower, and head a bit further north, you’ll come across Higashi Honganji Temple (東本願寺), one of the prominent temples in Kyoto known for its impressive scale.

The main gate, “Amidado” (阿弥陀堂), and “Goeido” (御影堂) are particularly famous. Among them, Goeido, reconstructed in 1895 after being lost in a fire, stands out for its colossal dimensions, boasting a height of 38m, a width of 58m, and a frontage of 76m.

“Higashi Honganji in the Heart of Kyoto”

Higashi Honganji is a temple located in the heart of Kyoto. “Higashi” means “east” in Chinese characters, and “Honganji” translates to “temple” in Japanese. So, translating Higashi Honganji literally means the temple located in the east.

Interestingly, there is another temple named “Nishi Honganji” (西本願寺), which is located to the west and is the counterpart to Higashi Honganji. “Nishi” means west in Japanese, and Nishi Honganji is situated about one block away from Higashi Honganji.

Originally, Nishi Honganji was the main temple. However, due to power struggles within the Japanese shogunate, a decision was made to divide the existing power by splitting one temple into two, leading to the establishment of both Nishi Honganji and Higashi Honganji. Consequently, Kyoto now has two major temples at its center.

“A Temple Constructed with Hair Ropes Made from Goddesses’ Hair”

Higashi Honganji is notably known for being constructed using ropes made from the hair of goddesses to transport timber. Visitors to the temple can even see these hair ropes on display.

“Free Admission to Higashi Honganji”

One of the advantages of visiting Higashi Honganji is that it offers free admission. While many tourist attractions charge entrance fees, Higashi Honganji is open to the public without any charge, making it accessible to everyone. Moreover, the temple opens its doors early in the morning, making it a suitable place to visit and explore without any constraints.

During my trip to Kyoto, I started my exploration from Kyoto Station, staying at a hotel located about two blocks north of Kyoto Station. The hotel, “Kanra Hotel Kyoto,” is situated right next to Higashi Honganji. On the first day in Kyoto, naturally, I passed by the temple while making my way from Kyoto Station to the hotel.

With some spare time on the second morning, I took the opportunity to explore the temple. The scale of the temple was impressive, and there was even a gallery inside. Unfortunately, it was too early, and the gallery was not yet open for visitors, leaving me with a sense of regret.

Though the temple is conveniently located near the hotel, making it easy to explore casually, its significant history, grandeur, and accessibility from Kyoto Station make it an excellent place to visit during a trip to Kyoto.

“Japan Kansai, Higashi Honganji in Kyoto”

  • Address: Karasuma Dori, 754, Nijojokudacho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8505, Japan
  • Phone: +81 75-371-9181
  • Website: Higashi Honganji
  • Opening Hours: (March-October) 5:50 – 17:30 / (November-February) 6:20 – 16:30