N I S H I   H O N G A N J I   T E M P L E

Our first morning in Kyoto was very gray, although not rainy. This did not help my camera with gorgeous colors, anyway I entered a temple for the first time and that was worth a visit :)
The Nishi Hongan-ji temple was built in 1591, originally known simply as Hongan-ji, to make it a new site for the Buddhist sect Jodo Shin-Shu (Pure Earth), which had a lot of influence at that time.
Years later, this power was recognized as a threat by Ieyasu Tokugawa, who encouraged a dissident faction from the Sect, to found in 1602 a new temple called Higashi Hongan-ji ("Eastern Hongan-ji").
The original Hongan-ji then was renamed as Nishi Hongan-ji ("Western Hongan-ji").
Today, Nishi Hongan-ji is the main site of the Hongan-ji branch of Jodo Shin-shu sect, which counts over 10000 temples and 12 millions worshippers all over the world.
The complex contains five buildings. The Goe-do is the main hall and unfortunately it's under work and not accessible to the public, until 2010. The Amida-do is the secondary hall and... it's not so smaller.

B E T W E E N   T H E

Walking from Nishi to Higashi Hongan-ji temples, you enter what seems to be a quiet, residential district.
Many of the shops in the area are selling religious items, suggesting that this could be actually for religion what Akihabara is for electronic in Tokyo :)
I don't know why, but this area is one of the first things I remember when I think about Kyoto.

H I G A S H I   H O N G A N J I

The Higashi Hongan-ji was founded in 1602 by a dissident faction of the original Hongan-ji branch.
It was rebuild in 1895 after it burned to the ground, it presents a structure very similar to Nishi Hongan-ji (it has also the same Goe-do and Amiya-do main halls), but of even bigger size. Another similar feature to the older brother is that also here the Goe-do main hall is closed for restoring works (and not even visible from outside).
Today the Higashi Hongan-ji is the main site of the Otani branch of Jodo Shin-shu Buddhist sect.

I M P E R I A L  P A L A C E

The Kyoto Imperial Palace is located in the middle of the biggest park in the city, at the very center.
It was built in 1331 and the Emperor lived here until 1869. The original Imperial Palace, constructed in 794, was located two kilometers to the west of the current site.
Almost all the present buildings of the Palace were reconstructed in 1855 after a fire.
There are various architectural styles in the Palace, reflecting different cultural periods of Japan.
In this album you will see also photos of an exhibition of a traditional dance and music performance.

E I K A N D O   Z E N R I N - J I

My original goal was to visit the Nanzen-ji temple, located on the far east border of the city along the edge of green hills, but once I was back in Germany I discovered that I visited the nearby Eikando Zenrin-ji temple instead.
No regrets, it was really great and it is my favourite temple so far, for how it is integrated into the natural environment and the sense of peacefulness permeating every corner.
Originally built in 853 as a training hall for the practice of Shingon Buddhism, it was later turned into a temple which got the name Zenrin-ji.
In the latter part of Heian period the abbot Yokan, commonly known as "Eikan", became the chief priest and the Zenrin-ji expanded greatly. Eikan received the respect of many people and at some time the Zenrin-ji was called Eikando.
The whole complex was no exception to the numerous fires which covered Kyoto during the Muromachi period, and also it was torn down during the Meiji era by an anti-Buddhism movement. Now Eikando Zenrin-ji has been completely recovered, and it is the home temple of the Jodo Seizan Zenrin-ji sect.

K Y O T O  S T A T I O N

The Kyoto station area shows mainly two attractions, the Station itself and the Kyoto Tower. In particular, the Station is a fine piece of modern architecture (to my eyes at least) despite not integrated at all with the traditional style of the city, and it contributes a bit to make the alive and kicking Kyoto hang to present instead of being respectfully labeled as a city stuck to the past Japanese glories.

N I J O - J O   C A S T L E

I had a short visit to the castle park on my departure day. The Nijo-jo Castle was originally built in 1601 by Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Edo Shogunate, as the Kyoto residence for himself and his successors. The whole complex today consists of a park surrounded by walls and moat, including the main building itself (Ninomaru) and another inner garden and building complex (Honmaru) also surrounded by inner walls and moats, which was built later.

M A N G A   M U S E U M

I discovered this cosplay meeting by chance, in the garden by the International Manga Museum, while I was walking from the Imperial Palace to the Castle.
This time, differently from Harajuku in Tokyo, all the gals are dressing anime/manga costumes.

K I N K A K U - J I   T E M P L E

Kinkaku-ji ("The Golden Pavillion") is a popular name for one of the main buildings of this temple, properly called Rokuon-ji.
It was originally the comfortable villa of Kintsune Sionji, in 1220's. In the following century, the 3rd Shogun of Ashikaga abdicated the throne, and in 1397 he began to build his residence Kitayamaden in this peaceful site, with special efforts to make it a breathtaking site.
After his death, the Kitayamaden was made into a Zen temple according to his will. The Kinkaku is the only building that remains from those days.
The Kinkaku-ji main feature is that its last two of three floors are completely covered with gold-leaf on Japanese lacquer, making the view of it, in this peaceful and harmonious landscape, a unique show in the world.
The Kinkaku-ji is the Marilyn Monroe of all temples. It is the most photographed, its beauty is breathtaking, and it is inaccessible.

W A L K I N G   A R O U N D

Various spots here and there around the center of the city, with an eye to Pontocho, a very typical narrow alley along a canal on the east side of the center.


To see the things in movement and playing sounds.


Following the time schedule:
Nishi Hongan-ji Temple The way between the temples Higashi Hongan-ji Temple Walking around Kyoto Station Eikando Zenrin-ji temple Imperial Palace Manga Museum Cosplay Nijo-jo Castle Kinkaku-ji temple