22nd October, 2006 - Just a short walk away from our mansion was the temple known as Higashi-Hongan-ji (or the Eastern Hongan-ji temple). This temple can be thought of as one side of the Hongan-ji coin (with Nishi-Hongan-ji, or the Western Hongan-ji temple, being the other side of the coin).
The original temple (Nishi-Hongan-ji) was split back in the turn of the Tokugawa period (around 1604 AD) - which I'll discuss in a later post. Needless to say, that the original temple was broken up and has remained separate to this day.
The temple, and all it’s treasures, were all but destroyed in 1864, during the upheavals at the end of the Tokugawa era (and the start of the Meiji era). This was the fourth time the temple had been destroyed since 1783. The present buildings date from between 1879 to 1911.
The newly created Meiji government was highly pro-Shinto in orientation, and therefore it was a difficult time to re-establish the temple. Indeed the history of both Hongan-ji temples is that of the gradually increasing control of the temples by the state.
Both Nishi and Higashi Honganji are free and open daily from around 6am, closing either 4:30 pm in winter to around 6pm otherwise. My feeling is that these are two of the big temples in Kyoto - and two of the easiest to get to... however, they are unfortunately not two of my favourites.