Following the death in 1212 of Honen Shonin, founder of Jodo sect, Chion-in Temple was built at the foot of Mt. Kacho and became known as the head temple of the Jodo sect. Mt. Kacho is one of the mountains along the ”Higashiyama Sanju-Roppo (36-mountain range)” where he spent his life. Although a mausoleum for Honen was destroyed in 1227 by monks from Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Hiei, Honen's disciple Seikambo Genchi erected the temple structure of Chion-in Temple in 1234 and naming Honen Shonin as its founder. The temple was bestowed the name ”Kachozan Chion-kyo-in Otani-dera Temple” by Emperor Shijo, and in the Edo period the temple grounds were expanded under the protection of Ieyasu Tokugawa. The current magnificent monastery was constructed during the reign era of the third shogun, Iemitsu. Some of the temple buildings have been designated as National Treasures, including the Miei-do Hall that enshrines the statue of Honen Shonin as the principal image, Amida-do Hall that enshrines the statue of Amida Nyorai, and Japan's largest wooden gate, San-mon gate.

Japan's largest gate—San-mon towers over the entrance of grounds donated by Hidetada Tokugawa
San-mon gate, built in 1621 on orders from the second Tokugawa Shogun, Hidetada, is famous as Japan's largest wooden gate. The huge gate measures 24 m high and 50 m wide, and as many as 70,000 tiles cover its roof. The tablet with the word ”Mt. Kacho” displayed in the center of the upper level is larger than two tatami mats (176 x 176 cm), emphasizing the gate's enormous scale. Its upper level contains a Buddhist hall surrounded by walls with richly colorful paintings, where the crowned statue of Shakamuni-butsu and statues of the Sixteen Arhats are enshrined.

Seishi-do Hall—the birthplace of Nenbutsu, enveloped in silence
The Seishi-do Hall is tucked away in a remote and quiet corner of the broad grounds. This place is believed to be the first thatched hut built by Honen Shonin and thus can be considered as the original ground of the Chion-in Temple. The current Seishi-do Hall, reconstructed in 1530 during the Muromachi period, is the oldest surviving building in the temple complex.

Japan's largest bell tower—famous for Joya no kane, or the bells of New Year's Eve
Cast in 1636, the large bell measures 3.3 meters tall, 2.8 meters across, and weighs about 70 tons. The bell is rung on two occasions every year: Gyoki-daie, which is held on the anniversary of Honen Shonin's death in April; and Joya no kane, which takes place on New Year's Eve. Joya no kane is broadcast on television every year and has become a charming feature of New Year's Eve in Kyoto.

Location Information

  • Address

    400, Rinkacho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 605-8686

  • Nearest Station
    Higashiyama Station
    ・ Tozai Line
    10 minutes on foot
  • Phone Number
    Available languages
    only in Japanese
  • Hours
    9:00am - 4:30pm
    *Reception ends at 16:00
  • Closed
  • Public Site
    Official Site

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※ The above information was correct at the time of updating, but there may be changes to actual prices. Please confirm the current prices when visiting.