Nishi Honganji Temple 西本願寺
A working temple in the heart of Kyoto
Nishi Honganji is a temple that continues to serve as a center of modern religious Buddhist practices. It is slightly to the west of its twin temple, Higashi Honganji .
As you might guess from their names, the two 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.
How to Get There
You can walk or take a taxi here.
Nishi Hongan-ji is accessible on foot from Kyoto Station . It takes 10 to 15 minutes. A taxi will get you there in minutes.
The twin temples
The layout of the two temples is similar, but each has some defining features and points of interest. Nishi Honganji 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.
An artistic place
Nishi Honganji contains a temple garden called Daishoin. 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.