This temple was built between 834 and 847 during the Heian period but burnt down during periodic wars. Honen, the famous popularized Buddhism in Japan, and his disciples reconstructed some of the buildings in the 12th Century, including the main hall and the Chokushi-mon gate.
The large number of graves of court nobles (the second highest class after the imperial family in Heian period class society) indicates the prestige of the temple
The temple, and Mount Kokura-san beyond, have been known since the Heian period as a famous place for autumn leaves
It can be accessible by train.
Nisonin Temple is a 10-minute walk from either JR Saga-Arashiyama Station, or from Arashiyama Station on the Keifuku Line. From Hankyu Arashiyama Station, it takes around 30 minutes.
The name Nison-in, meaning “two revered images,” derives from the temple’s two principal standing images, Shaka Nyorai on the right and Amitabha Tathagata on the left. Both are designated as Important Cultural Assets of Japan. The 78.8 centimeter high statues appear symmetrical at first glance but in fact have subtle differences such as the shape of their fingers, which are infused with religious meaning. The two images are there because Syaka Nyorai sends those who’ve died from this life to the afterlife, while Amitabha Tathagata welcomes them into Pure Land (Buddhist heaven).
Nison-in was originally a place to study the four combining Buddhist sects of Tendai, Shingon, Risshu and Jodo, but it has been strictly a Tendai temple since the Meiji period.
The large number of graves of emperors and court nobles (the second highest class after the imperial family in Heian period class society) indicates the prestige of the temple.