The temple is located off the Philosopher’s path. It’s only 15 to 20 minutes by bus from the city centre, but the environment is quiet and refreshing. There are some pretty temples and shrines along the path. They are not grandiose like Hian-jungu shrine or Kiyomizu temple, but they stand at the foot of mountain surrounding by thick trees and they make us forget we are in the city.
Honen-in(法然院) is a quiet small temple surrounded by trees with a pretty humble hut style gate. The gate is very charming and photogenic, most visitors keen to take photos of it.
The temple’s named after the founder of the Pure Land sect (浄土宗) of Buddhism. The temple wasn’t actually founded by him, but was built much later in the place where he used to conduct sutra chanting with his disciples in the Kamakura period.
The precinct is open to the public from 4 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon, but the main hall is only open on several days a year. Actually I’ve never been. I read that 25 flowers are placed on the wooden floor in front of the main image. 25 accords to the number of followers of Amida Buddha. The floor is varnished and shines like a mirror. Isn’t it a beautiful site? I think it must be.
The other characteristic thing is the sand platforms which are periodically raked to create designs. The one on the right is the seasonal motif and on the left is the Buddhist motif. Unfortunately the images weren’t in perfect condition due to the rain, when I went there though to compensate the green was glowing and gave them a pretty backdrop instead.
There’s an old style 10-storey stone pagoda which was built during the Taisho period.