Honen-in is our favorite temple in all of Kyoto, and that’s saying a lot in a city with over 1600 temples.
Honen-in Temple: Takashi Images / Shutterstock.com
Starting with an incredibly scenic approach that culminates in a moss-covered gate, Honen-in works its magic on the visitor right from the start. Once inside, you’ll pass between two sand mounds that are said to purify the visitor. You then cross a lovely stone bridge over a pond and then make you way through a moss-covered garden to find yourself at a secret grotto behind the main hall.
The main hall itself is only open from 1-17 April (when the camellias are in bloom) and 1-7 November (when the maples turn red). During these times, you have to pay to enter the main hall, but it’s more than worth it (the black Amida Buddha figure here is one of the most sublime Buddha images in all Japan). The rest of the grounds can be toured for free all year round.
There’s also a small kura (storehouse) on the grounds where interesting free art exhibits are held and more serious exhibits are sometimes held in the main hall. It’s worth pointing out that the abbot of Honen-in is one of the most switched on individuals in the whole city and he brings together many of the country’s top artists and intellectuals.
30 Goshonodan-cho, Shishigatani, Sakyo-ku
Non-smoking area: Yes
10min walk from Ginkaku-ji-michi Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 5 or 17 from Kyoto Station
Official Website (Japanese)
Where Is This Place Located?See these places on our Kyoto Google map:
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Near To Here:
Honen-in Temple is located in Kyoto’s Northern Higashiyama district. See our complete list of things to do in Northern Higashiyama, including places to eat, nightlife and places to stay.
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router.
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass - here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy - here's how.
- Get travel insurance for Japan - we recommend World Nomads (and here's why)