Sunday, July 5, 2015


Chion-in is the head temple of the Jodo sect (Pure Land) of Japanese Buddhism, one of the most popular sects in Japan.

One enters via the Sanmon Gate which stands  78 feet tall and 164 feet wide. It is the largest wooden gate in Japan dating back to the early 1600s. Also on site is the Ogane, a large bell that is 10.8 feet in height, 8 feet in diameter, and weighs 70 tons. The bell was cast in 1636 and was the largest in the world during the 17th to 19th centuries. It takes 17 monks to ring. 
Unfortunately for me, the main hall, which can seat 3,000 people, was under restoration while I visited and closed to the public. However, I was able to view a number of other shrines and structures throughout the large complex.

The gardens of Chion-in consist of the Hojo garden which surrounds a pond shaped like the Chinese character for  heart. There is a dry garden with interesting shrubbery mixed with stones. In addition, there was the Yuzen-en garden which was redesigned in 1954 and consists of two gardens, a pond, and dry rock garden. There are also two teahouses within these gardens.