Chion-in (知恩院)

Chion-in (知恩院)

Chion-in (知恩院) is a major temple in Kyoto and boosts the largest gate in Japan (50m long for a height of 24m). Chion-in is located in the Higashiyama district, between Shoren-in (青蓮院) and Maruyama-koen (円山公園). In fact, it is neatly sandwiched between those two locations. It is not a particularly popular desitnation for foreign tourists, unless those who wander in Maruyama-koen and happen to exit the park through its north exit. IOW not many people.

Chion-in was founded in 1133 by Honen and is the head temple of the Jodo sect which groups about 7000 temples in Japan. The pamphlet says this sect has about 6 million followers in Japan (which I suspect is a bit optimistic). Anyway, the temple buildings are truely huge. Appart from the largest front gate, Chion-in also has a quite large main hall called "Amida hall" (阿弥陀堂). In fact, it may have second place in the largest-temple-hall-in-Japan competition (the largest in the world is in Todai-ji 東大寺 in Nara Park).

Besides the huge wooden buildings, Chion-in also has more human-sized spots. One is the Hojo garden (方丈庭園) which was deigned in 1641 by Buddhist monk Gyokuen. A nice garden but often in the shade so it's better not to visit it on a sunny day (at least from a photographic point of view). There is also a couple of old pavillions further up the slopes leading to a large cemetary. The pavillions have a nive view on Kyoto (Santei garden 山亭庭園). The cemetary is also nice, and if you follow it in the forest you will reach very old samurai tombs.

At last, the Yuzen garden (友禅) has its entrance at the left of the momumental flight of stairs right after the main gate. This garden has a pond with a rather modern statue in the middle. The statue is a matter of taste, but the pond has lots of koi fish (Japanese carps) and a nice bridge. Uphill stand a couple of tea rooms and down below lies a rock garden which is best viewed in late spring, when the rhododendrons (satsuki, 皐月) are blooming.

(Note: this temple should not be mistaken for Chion-ji 知恩寺 which lies north of Heian-jingu 平安神宮)

Recommended for: Access:

Nearby: Shōren-in 青蓮院 (210m), Chōraku-ji 長楽寺 (280m), Kōbun-tei 好文亭 (290m), Awata-jinja 粟田神社 (410m), Daiun-in 大雲院 (420m), Yasaka Jinja and Maruyama Kōen 八坂神社・円山公園 (430m), Evening tea ceremony 冬の夜の茶会 (460m), Shōgunzuka 将軍塚 (500m), Tōkei-ji 東景寺 (500m), Kōdai-ji 高台寺 (510m),...

Keywords: Japan, 日本, Japon, Kansai, 関西, Kinki, 近畿, Kyoto, 京都, 東山, Higashiyama, Chion-in, Chionin, 知恩院, temple, お寺, 寺院, 卍, 仏閣

Visited on 8 occasions, id: 74, 41 photos (56 extra photos can be found in the archive).

Photos of Chion-in:

Green pine and red maple tree
Red maple tree and pond
Stone bridge and autumn colors
Stairs in front of Chion-in temple gate
Stairway to Chion-in temple
Rhododendrons in bloom, Chion-in zen gardens
Rock garden in summer, Chion-in temple
Stone bridge in rock garden, Chion-in temple
Rock garden in summer, Chion-in temple