Hongan-ji Temple, close to Kyoto Station, where you will encounter National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties
Hongan-ji Temple, which is close to Kyoto Station, is located in Shimogyo Ward in Kyoto, and is called Nishi Hongan-ji while residents of the city affectionately refer to it as O-Nishi-san. The temple grounds have been registered as a National Historic Site and have also become a World Heritage site as an ancient Kyoto cultural property.
You can view the valuable buildings that have been registered as National Treasures representing modern Japanese architecture such as Goei-do Hall, the world’s largest wooden building, and Amida-do Hall which contains the statue of Amida Nyorai, located in the center of the huge grounds of the temple. In particular, a highlight is the massive Daikouryou crossbeam inside Goei-do Hall which is exquisitely carved and decorated. Not just a National Treasure in itself, the temple has preserved numerous buildings and works of fine and applied arts such as Japan’s oldest Noh stage which have been recognized as Important Cultural Properties, but although some of the buildings can be seen free of admission, many of the others are sadly not open to the general public.
Tools that were used to create exhibits such as the mozuna, a rope made from women’s hair and hemp, and the ohzori sled are also displayed. At the reception area, you can see displays of valuable artifacts of the temple and historical information on the founder Shinran Shonin. The huge grounds of Hongan-ji have also been recognized as National Historic Sites where you can enjoy yourself by simply taking a walk there.
The dry landscape garden, Kokei-no-Niwa
Hongan-ji’s Kokei-no-Niwa Garden was known as one of the three great gardens during the Heian Era when Kyoto was the capital. Kokei-no-Niwa is a dry landscape garden which uses sand and rocks to represent water. It was built in the image of Mount Lushan in China so that it would look like the actual mountain as seen from the roof of Goei-do Hall. Merely viewing it is relaxing, so the garden is recommended as a place to spend some leisurely time.