Nishi Hongan-ji is a temple that continues to function as a center of modern religious Buddhist practices. It is slightly to the west of its twin temple, Higashi Hongan-ji. As you might guess from their names, they were once aligned. They were divided into west (nishi) and east (higashi) sects by Tokugawa Ieyasu, then ruler of Japan, who feared that their political power would grow too great.
Nishi Hongan-ji is accessible by walking from Kyoto Station.
It takes 10 to 15 minutes.
The layout of the two temples is similar, but each has some defining features and points of Interest. Nishi Hongan-ji is older by just a decade. It is more ornate than its neighbor, and is the only one to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Nishi Hongan-ji contains a temple garden called Daisho-in. Built without any water features, it instead uses sand, stones, and plants to represent mountains, rivers, and the sea. Another feature of note is the Karamon, a gate whose intricately carved and painted sloping roof dwarfs the actual entry point.
Distinguishing Nishi Hongan-ji from Higashi Hongan-ji
is located to the west
is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
has a garden on the temple grounds