Chion-in, built in 1234 where Hōnen taught and eventually died, comprises Japan’s largest temple gate and two halls, with some areas dating back to the seventeenth century. Visitors will also find two gardens on the grounds, a traditional Japanese landscape garden, and another garden centered on a pond. One notable feature is the nightingale floor that extends between the two halls; the floor planks “chirp” when stepped on to help alert the monks of potential intruders.
Things to know before you go
- Chion-in is a must-see for spiritual travelers and temple enthusiasts.
- Admission to the temple grounds is free, but there is a charge for the main hall and gardens.
- Several public restrooms are available throughout the grounds.
- The temple is wheelchair accessible.
How to get there
Chion-in is north of Maruyama Park in southeast Kyoto. Buses run to Chion-in from the city center and the closest train station is a 10-minute walk away at Higashiyama.
When to get there
The temple is open daily from 9am to 4:30pm, and since it isn’t as well-known as other Kyoto temples, it doesn’t tend to get crowded.
The Chion-in Bell
A flight of stairs leads from the temple’s main hall to its giant bell, the largest in Japan. The 77-ton behemoth, cast in 1633, typically rings 108 times each year on New Year’s Eve to release worshippers from the 108 worldly desires of the previous year; it requires 17 monks to ring it.
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