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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Nishi Honganji In Kyoto - Amended

I have no idea why I only have one image from Nishi Honganji, but I suspect it was because it was late in the evening and the place was closing… or because we had already seen Higashi Honganji… and so… big whoop. 

That latter type of thinking, however, is dangerous.

For one thing… Nishi Honganji is much older than Higashi Honganji, with more original buildings… which works two ways… yes, original wooden architectural constructs… and boring non-colorful original wooden architectural constructs.

Pick your poison.


Nishi Hongan-ji (西本願寺)  is, in English, the Western Temple of the Original Vow.

I wonder if people in Asia hear the names of western churches and think they are as cool as how we think the Asian ones are, like Nishi Honganji? Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Perpetucal Motion… I went to school at Our Lady of Peace and Our Lady of the Airways which I’m pretty sure wasn’t covered in any Bible I ever read…  

So… for those of you following along, Trish and I are on vacation in Kyoto in 1992, and have already visited Higashi Honganji (the Easten Temple of the Original Vow).

These are the two temples of Jōdo Shinshū in Kyoto, Japan.

Jōdo Shinshū (浄土真宗) is a school of Pure Land Buddhism… or Shin Buddhism.  The name means The True Essence of the Pure Land Teaching…

Anyhow… with Higashi Honganji known affectionately as Mr. east, our current locale is known as Mr. West.

As mentioned in a previous blog, when Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu was more or less in complete charge of Japan, he was smart enough to try and weaken the church, which has long been a source of power amongst every community around the world (Pope, witch doctors, shaman, Joe Smith - as examples only and not meant to disrespect anyone).

Even though Buddhism is a philosophy and not a religion—we all get that, right?—it still wielded considerable “religious” might in its ability to sway the devout masses.

As such, the shogun split the original Honganji temple in Kyoto into two separate entities.

The very impressive gate that leads into Nishi Honganji is typically called a Karamon (唐門), and was designated as a National Treasure of Japan… 

The photo is of a detail taken from the side of a bell placed on display.

It shows a komainu (a guardian “Korean” lion dog. The image in the photo is only about 4-inches long, but you can see I think such detail is awesome.

Andrew Joseph

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