RYOKAN KYOTO

HONENIN FLOWER STAIRS

     

honenin At the beginning of my pilgrimage I have already visited Shinran, now it is time to meet Shinran's teacher, Honen (1133-1212), the founder of Jodo Buddhism. The head temple of Jodo Buddhism is Chionin, a huge pile with a gate even larger than the one of Higashi Honganji. The temple is also famous for its large bell, which is struck by a whole team of priests for the ritual 108 ringings at year-end. But Chionin is too big, too formal for me to feel close to Honen. On a blistering summer afternoon I therefore visit a small temple named after him, Honenin.Honenin lies in Shishigatani, east of the Philosopher' s Path which runs along a small stream from Ginkakuji to Nanzenji and skirts along the foot of the Higashiyama range. It is so called because the philosopher Dr. Nishida Kitaro, who taught at nearby Kyoto University, often used to walk here. A wooded lane leads away from the city to the peacefulness of the temple.Under the trees, it is immediately much cooler. I pass a bamboo ticket, which has occasional giant camellias and enter via the characteristic thatched gate, symbolic of the rustic quietness here. After all, less than a hundred years ago, this area was countryside. Honenin used to be a small, rural temple.



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