Downtown Kyoto Culture Course
In the central part of the modern metropolitan of Kyoto stand ancient treasures including Nijo-jo Castle and the Gion District.
This garden was designed at the request of Sen-nyo, a priest of Higashi-Hongwan-ji Temple. You can enjoy viewing plum and cherry blossoms in Shosei-en Garden in the spring, irises and water lilies in summer, and maple leaves in the autumn.
Nishi-Hongwan-ji Temple is designed to impress. The finest example of Momoyama Period (1573-1603) architecture in Kyoto, the temple features large buildings, elaborate gates with gold trim, gilded altars, painted statues, and a host of other items designated National Treasures, including the oldest Noh stage in Japan.
Nishi-Hongwan-ji Temple is the headquarter of the Shin Buddhism, which has the largest number of adherents of any sects in Japan. If you spend some time on the wide tatami mat in front of the altar in the main hall and bask in the splendor of the decoration, you would feel the power of this influential spiritual movement. Perhaps one can even catch a glimpse of the "Pure Land," the Buddhist heaven the elaborate display is meant to evoke.
The temple was founded in 1272 by the daughter of Shinran (1173-1263), the sect's founder. Shinran's teachings were simpler than the doctrines of other Buddhist schools and became very popular with the poor. His influence grew rapidly, and in time the ruling shoguns began to fear the temple's influence. Thus the sect was divided into two schools, with a rival temple, Higashi Hongwan-ji Temple, being established close by. As evidenced by its stunning decorations however, Nishi Hongwan-ji Temple has continued to prosper.
The Kobo-san market fair is held here on the 21st of each month.
The 5-story 57 meter high pagoda has long served as a city landmark and a center for spiritual and vibrant community life. On the 21st of each month, a large flea market is held on the grounds of To-ji Temple, drawing vendors from all over Japan. Handicrafts, antique clothing and furniture, children's toys, plants and food are available in abundance.
To fulfill an Imperial decree to protect the city, To-ji temple was built in 794. In 823 it changed hands from the emperor to the Shingon sect of Buddhism's originator, Kobo Daishi. The lecture hall contains 21 striking mandala images which encode Shingon teachings, while the main hall of the temple contains a blend of Chinese, Indian, and Japanese architectural styles, as well as statues of healing Buddhas.