Higashi Honganji Temple, Kyoto
Higashi Hongwanji is a big temple complex just north of Kyoto station. It is in honor of Shinran Shonin(1173-1262), the founder of Shin Buddhism, and also the mother temple of the Shinshu Otani-ha, one of the largest Buddhist denominations in Japan.
The founders hall (Goei-do) is one of the largest wooden structures in Japan. Its length is 76m (253ft), width is 58m (193m) and height is 38m (127ft). The floor of the hall is 927 tatami mats. In this hall, completed in 1895, a wooden image of the founder, Shinran, is enshrined.
Founded by the first Tokugawa shogun in 1602, the present buildings date from 1895. This temple, which was created independent of Nishi-Honganji Temple by order of the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1602, consists of a number of huge wooden buildings, one of which is among the largest in the world. It is of special importance as for religious matters: Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha (its real name), is the mother temple and headquarters of more than 10,500 temples and churches with 12,000,000 believers in Japan and in countries located throughout the world. The Temple was first established some 700 years ago at Otani Hombyo, the mausoleum of Shinran Shonin, the founder of Jodo Shinshu. Because of persecutions and civil wars in Japan, the Temple was forced to move from place to place in the Kansai area, but with the grant of land in Kyoto from Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1591, the Temple was permanently established at its present site and through the years many structures, which today are National Treasures and Important Cultural Assets, were added to make the complex that is seen today.
Higashi Honganji Temple was built to divide the power of Nishi Honganji Temple. It is the head temple of the Otani sect of Pure Land Buddhism. The original temple was built hundreds of years ago, but the current structure dates back to 1895.
Aside from the size of the temple, one of the most intriguing parts is the hair rope, a massive rope made entirely out of the hair of female followers. These ropes were used to hang the beams in the main hall.
Entrance is free.
The Higashi Honganji complex is the head temple of the Otani-ha branch of the Jodo Shin denomination of Buddhism, which is popularly known as Ohigashi-san. This was built on donated land, which the 12th abbot, Kyonyo, received from Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo period (1603-1868). While the Founder's Gate (Goei-do) is one of the three largest in Kyoto, the Founder's Hall (Goei-do) is one of the world's largest wooden structures, containing 927 tatami mats and the wooden image of Shinran Shonin, the founder of this denomination.
Amida Hall (Amida-do), which is located next to it, is where Amida Buddha is enshrined. Both of these present Halls were rebuilt in 1895. Hair ropes, made from human hair mixed with hemp and used in that construction, were donated by parishioners from all over the country. One of these can be seen in Amida Hall. The renovation of the Founder's Hall (Goei-do) was completed in 2009. At present, Amida Hall (Amida-do) is enclosed by an outer covering in preparation for the forthcoming renovation, which will commence in 2012.
Shosei-en Garden is the detached garden of Higashi Honganji and was designated as a place of National Scenic Beauty in 1936. It is also called Kikoku-tei (the Trifoliate Orange Villa) as the site was originally surrounded by this particular variety of orange trees. This garden is said to have been built on the Heian-era (794-1185) site of the Rokujo Kawara-no-in Villa of Prince Minamoto no Toru, the son of Emperor Saga. In 1641, the 13th abbot, Sennyo, requested Ishikawa Jozan to create a garden on this land, which had been donated by the 3rd shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu. However, the various structures there were destroyed twice by fire in 1858 and 1864 and the present construction took place during the Meiji period (1868-1912). This garden is filled with many kinds of flowers throughout the year, and the colorful scenery is highly appreciated.
Free admission and well worth the trip here ... really close to the Kyoto train station .....
The most famous, and odd, thing in the Higashi Hongwanji is the kezuna. Kezuna means hairrope.
When the Founders Hall was build difficulties arose due to the weight of the timber. Conventinal ropes were not strong enough to transport the heavy beams. This delayed the work. Female believers donated their hair to weave massive ropes. 53 ropes were made and did the job. The largest rope measured 110 meters, had a circumference of 40 cm and weighed 1000 kg.
A rope can be seen in the corridor between the Founders Hall and the Amida Hall.
Higashi-HonJi temple is the first one I came across as I walked through Kyoto, just a couple of blocks north from the station.
Only its 2 main halls are open to the public (but it is free entrance), but they count among the nation's largest wooden buildings.
For the main hall, ordinary ropes proved too weak to hoist the roof beams. Female subjects sent in enough hair to put together 53 large ropes, some of which sit encased for show inside.
Higashi Hongan-ji was founded in 1602 by Tokugawa Ieyasu. It was completely rebuilt in 1895 after several fires burned all the original structures down. The main gate, which is 27 metres tall, has doors made of one giant slab of wood. The Founders Hall is one of the worlds oldest wooden structures.
When we were here there was a lot of re-construction work going on. One of the halls was completely covered over, which was interesting to see in itself. It was very noisy however, which detracted a bit from our visit...still, these things have to be done sometime if they are to be preserved. I think I read some-where that the work will be finished in 2010.
Open from 5.30am- 5.30pm
The present buildings were completed in 1895, after the original structures were lost through fire. The huge Founder's Hall encloses an area equal to 927 tatami mats and is one of the largest wooden structures in the world. Fifty ropes woven from hair contributed by women devotees were used to raise the huge beams. They are still preserved by the temple. Shosei-en, landscaped early in the Edo period, is a Place of Scenic Beauty. (Admission free)
An example of some of the details surrounding the world's largest wooden structure. I have a couple of funny photos of 2 boys playing around this dragon, more entranced by the aluminum water scoops than for the architecture. Ah well...
The largest wooden structure in Kyoto. Inside a glass case there lies a rope, made of human hair. In these days there wasn't a good qaulity of rope, so they gathered the hair from humans.
This is one of the less famous temples in Kyoto. The Higashi-Honganji Temple located down town about 1 km from the city centre.
The eastern temple of the original Vow was established in 1602 but all the buildings on site date from 1895.
This is a Japanese Buddhist temple. The grounds make for a nice walk and the location is easily accessable