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Notes on the Geography of Japan: Higashi-Honganji

Higashi-Honganji is the headquarters of a junior subsect of the Jodo-Shinshu sect, and the present structures were only completed about 1895. On both counts, it's possible to be rather dismissive of the temple, but don't be too hasty. For anyone who grew up on particle board and nail guns, this place is remarkable.

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Japan: Higashi-Honganji picture 1

Founder's Hall, dedicated to the Amida Buddha. This is a populist strain of Buddhism, appealing both in its simplicity and in its promise of a relief from suffering. It was popular enough here in Kyoto that this temple was funded entirely by private donations at a time when the imperial authorities, eager to promote Shinto, frowned on Buddhism.

Japan: Higashi-Honganji picture 2

Detail of porch flooring.

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Posts and beam.

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Steps--one massive beam per riser and tread. Try this at your local Home Depot.

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From the porch.

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Roof, with lighting protector.

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Gable detail.

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Interior: a forest of jointed beams and posts, with tatami mats.

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Not a chair or pew in sight.

Japan: Higashi-Honganji picture 10

Door knob.


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