Japan Kyoto Southern Higashiyama

Chionin Temple

A central site for Pure Land Buddhism featuring Japan’s largest wooden gate.

Photo of Chionin Temple, Japan (Chion-in Sanmon by Marcin Chady)

Chionin Temple, established in 1234, is the head temple of the Jodo-shu sect, providing insight into Japanese Buddhism. Known for its architectural significance and spiritual atmosphere, it attracts those interested in its history and cultural importance. The temple grounds boast Japan’s largest wooden gate and a 74-ton bell, offering a setting for worship and reflection.

About Chionin Temple

Founded by Honen’s disciple Genchi, Chionin Temple is central to the spread of Pure Land Buddhism in Japan. The temple complex, reconstructed in the Edo period with support from the Tokugawa shogunate, includes the Miedo or Main Hall, a National Treasure reflecting the era’s architectural style, and enshrines an image of Honen. The Chionin Sanmon Gate, also a National Treasure, is one of Japan’s largest temple gates, symbolizing the temple’s significance.

The temple grounds feature the Hojo Gardens, a National Place of Scenic Beauty, with gardens designed in the Karesansui dry landscape style. Chionin hosts cultural events, such as the Yomigaeri Ceremony on December 25, where a statue of Honen is cleansed.

Despite historical challenges, including the banishment of Honen and attacks by rival temples, Chionin has continually rebuilt and prospered. Its large bell, recast in the 17th century, is iconic, particularly during New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Chionin’s importance extends beyond religion; it reflects the intersection of Japanese Buddhism and politics during the Shogunate era. The temple’s influence in the community is evidenced by its cultural and educational contributions.

Chionin Temple provides an opportunity to appreciate historical structures, tranquil gardens, and traditional rituals. Located in Kyoto’s Southern Higashiyama district, Chionin is near other cultural landmarks, offering a complete cultural experience in Kyoto.

Getting There the easiest way to reach Chionin Temple

T 10

 Kyoto Tozai Line

 5-10 minute walk (800m)
KH 40

 Keihan Main Line

 10-20 minute walk (1.4km)

Around Chionin Temple

Chionin Temple

Buddhist Temple in Kyoto

open 9am - 3:20pm
closed Irregularly


知恩院, 京都

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Updated 13 Mar 2024 • Report an error

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