Now in Kyoto, and already distracted once on our trip to Kyoto Tower, the next diversion to cross our paths was the Higashi Honganji complex, also known as The Eastern Temple of the Original Vow, whose main hall just happens to be the largest wooden structure in Kyoto!
Higashi Honganji (the religion) was established in 1602 by the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu when he split the Shin sect in two (Nishi Honganji being the other) in order to diminish its power.
Together with Nishi Honganji, Higashi Honganji are the two dominant sub-sects of Shin Buddhism in Japan and abroad.
Higashi Honganji (the temple and primary headquarters of the religion), in its current incarnation, was first built 1895 following the repeated destruction of the previous complex due to fires. Its main hall, the Goeido, is Kyoto’s largest wooden structure and is dedicated to Shinran, the sect’s founder.
Next to it and almost as large is the Amidado Hall, dedicated to the Amida Buddha.
Obviously, this is a hugely important site for worshipers, and as such Ryan and I were quite careful to stay out of everyone’s way and not intrude on the worship sessions in progress (as tourists are generally prone to do!).
Sadly the temple complex is currently undergoing massive repair work, mean lots of scaffolding, covers, broken bits, and restricted areas, meaning that one couldn’t get a complete feel at just how an imposing place this temple complex is in reality.
Nevertheless, the air is heavy with history and the wooden architecture is an absolute marvel to behold, thanks in particular to the sheer scale of the hall in front of you.
And so, with our first Kyoto temple encounter now complete, we got back on track in terms of our primary mission – walking to Kyoto Tower!