Chion-in Temple (知恩院), situated in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, is the temple of the Jodo sect of Buddhism.
Temple’s formal name is “Kachozan Chionkyo-in Otani-dera”.
In addition, it had a deep connection with the Tokugawa clan (徳川家).
History of Chion-in
Let’s study the history of this temple with me before introducing Chion-in (知恩院).
I think that we can enjoy the sightseeing of this temple more by learning the history of it. XD
Chion-in is now one of the biggest temples in Kyoto.
However, originally it was not a big temple.
Why would Chion-in became such a big temple?
There are two reasons.
First reason “Ieyasu TOKUGAWA (徳川家康) was the follower of the Jodo-shu.”
Teaching of the Jodo-shu that is the idea of Honen is called ‘Senshu Nenbutsu (専修念仏).’
It’s an open-and-shut thinking, as follows.
All people can be reborn in Amida’s Paradise by reciting ‘Namuamidabutsu (南無阿弥陀仏).’
In Jodo-shu, we can go to the Buddhists’ paradise only praying to Amida Buddha (阿弥陀如来) even if we do not train ourselves.
Jodo sect is popular by these reason from old days.
Tokugawa clan (徳川家) also believed in this Jodo sect of Buddhism from generation to generation.
So, the Tokugawa clan greatly participated in the development of this temple.
Second reason “It is located on the rising ground of Kyoto.”
Because Chion-in is located on the rising ground of Kyoto, it was the place that can look down at the Kyoto Imperial Palace (京都御所).
Therefore, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA revived this temple to check the Imperial Court.
He expanded this temple grounds from 1608 and built numerous halls.
Although the mitsuba-aoi (三葉葵) which is the Tokugawa family’s crest was exclusively used by the Tokugawa clan, Chioni-n could use it because it was due to the above reasons.
By such the reasons, Chion-in Temple became the big temple.
Address：Chion-in 400 Rinka-cho, Higashiyama-ku Kyoto, 605-8686
Principal image：Honen (法然) , Amida Nyorai (Amithaba)
|Dec – Feb||6:00~16:00|
|Mar – May, Sep – Nov||5:30~16:00|
|Jun – Aug||5:00~16:00|
Admission Fee (Hojo Garden)
|Elementary / Junior high students||200 yen|
*Precincts is free of charge.
・Please ask temple’s staff where you can take photos and videos.
・Worship method of a shinto shrine and a buddhist temple, please refer to the following article.
Next, Let’s go to see highlights of this temple with me!
Highlights of Chion-in
- 新門:Shin-mon gate
- 古門:Furu-mon gate
- 三門(国宝):San-mon gate (National treasure)
- 黒門:Kuro-mon gate
- 南門:Minami-mon gate (South gate)
- 北門:Kita-mon gate (North gate)
- 四脚門:Shikyaku-mon gate
- 武家門:Buke-mon gate
- 唐門(重要文化財)*:Kara-mon gate (important cultural property)*
- 御影堂(国宝):Miei-do hall (National treasure)
- 阿弥陀堂:Amida-do hall
- 霊塔(多宝塔): Rei-to pagoda
- 真葛庵:Makuzu-an (Tea House)
- 寶佛殿:Hobutsu-den hall (New charnel house)
- 納骨堂:Nokotsu-do hall (Old charnel house)
- 大鐘楼(重要文化財):Daishoro (Great bell tower) (important cultural property)
- 経蔵(重要文化財):Kyozo (sutra repository) (important cultural property)
- 写経塔:Shakyo-to pagoda
- 勢至堂(重要文化財):Seishi-do hall (important cultural property)
- 法然上人御廟:Gobyo (Honen’s Mausoleum)
- 集会堂(重要文化財):Shue-do hall (important cultural property)
- 大庫裏(重要文化財)*:O-kuri (important cultural property)*
- 小庫裏(重要文化財)*:Sho-kuri (important cultural property)*
- 大方丈(重要文化財)*:O-hojo (important cultural property)*
- 小方丈(重要文化財)*:Ko-hojo (important cultural property)*
- 方丈庭園*:Hojo garden*
- 権現堂*:Gongen-do hall*
This mark (*) is a pay area.
It has a role of the entrance of the south approach to the temple.
It has a role of the entrance of the north approach to the temple.
San-mon gate was built by Hidetada TOKUGAWA (徳川秀忠) in 1621 of the Edo period.
It has been designated as a national treasure, and is one of the three greatest gate in Japan.
It has a role of the entrance from Maruyama Park (円山公園).
It has a role of the entrance of Shue-do holl (集会堂) and Hojo garden (方丈庭園).
It has been designated as a national treasure.
But currently covered by scaffolding for a major restoration…(until spring 2019).
Amida Nyorai (阿弥陀如来:Amithaba) of the principal image of this temple is enshrined in this building.
It has a role of the tea house.
It was built in 1992 which has a role of the new charnel house.
It was built in 1930 which is the old charnel house.
The bell of this bell tower is one of the three greatest bell in Japan.
(The others are Todai-ji’s bell and Hoko-ji’s bell.)
Issai-kyo (Complete Collection of Scriptures) is kept in this building.
A sutra copied by hand is kept in this pagoda.
This building is the oldest building in this temple.
This spring water is called ‘Shiun-sui (the water of purple cloud).’
It is built in the highest place of the precincts of this temple.
It has a role of the entrance of O-kuri.
It is also called ‘Sekko-den (雪香殿).’
It is also called ‘Gekko-den (月光殿).’
It is the circuit style garden around a big pond (池泉回遊式庭園).
It was built in 1974.
Photos of Chion-in
Kyoto Higashiyama Hanatouro
Illuminations event called ‘Kyoto Higashiyama Hanatouro (京都東山花灯路)‘ is held every spring in Higashiyama, Kyoto.
Chion-in is one of the venue of this events.
Goshuin (Red ink stamp) of Chion-in
Goshuin of this temple is “Honen Shonin (法然上人)”.
How to get to Chion-in
Nearest station is Gion-Shijo Station or Higashiyama Station.
We can also go by bus from JR Kyoto Station.
From Osaka Sta. to Gion-shijo Sta. (by train)
1.Get on the JR Loop Line from Osaka Station to Kyobashi Station and change to the Keihan Railway.
2.Get on the Keihan Railway from Kyobashi Station to Gion-shijo Station.
From Namba Sta. to Gion-shijo Sta. (by train)
1.Get on the Osaka Metro Midosuji-Line from Namba Station to Yodoyabashi Station and change to the Keihan Railway.
2.Get on the Keihan Railway from Yodoyabashi Station to Gion-shijo Station.
From Kyoto Sta. to Gion-shijo Sta. (by train)
1.Get on the JR Nara Line from Kyoto Station to Tofukuji Station and change to the Keihan Railway.
2.Get on the Keihan Railway from Tofukuji Station to Gion-shijo Station.
From Gion-Shijo Station (on foot)
It’s about 20 minutes (1 km) on foot.
Get on a bus from JR Kyoto Station
Please get on a Kyoto City Bus No.206 (Kyoto Sta.[D2] bus stop) and get off Chionin-mae (Chionin Temple) bus stop.
Bus company：Kyoto City Bus
Routes/Destination：No.206[Bound for Gion Via Kiyomizu-dera Temple]
Boarding bus stop：Kyoto Sta.[D2]
Alighting bus stop：Chionin-mae (Chionin Temple)
Bus fare：230 yen
Time required：About 23 min
Take a taxi
From Kyoto Station：about 1,800 yen (10 minutes)
From Gion-Shijo Station：about 720 yen (3 minutes)
・Let’s show a taxi driver the following phrase.
・If you want to call a taxi, let’s show the following phrase.
・Phone number of taxi dispatch (Around Kyoto Sta.)
Hotel search & reservation around Chion-in
How did you like it?
Have a nice trip!