F In Kyoto: the Koshiji Temple - jeepneyjinggoy

In Kyoto: the Koshiji Temple

Breathtaking. The Goei-do hall built in 1912

Day 5: I was up early with the intention of maximizing my last day in Kyoto. 

I got a good night’s rest in New Ginkaku Inn but if I had my way, I’d sleep to give my aching feet a day’s rest. I must have walked a million steps in the past four days. 

Luckily, my hotel, which was in a convenient location a few steps from the Kyoto Station with a bus terminal that can take passengers to any point in the city and back, was also surrounded with points of interest. The Kyoto Tower, Higashi Honganji, Nishi Honganji and the Costume Museum were in the vicinity.

I purposely saved the last day for the exploration of the neighborhood. This way, I can freshen up at the hotel after the tour and walk to the station to head back to Tokyo. With that as the plan, I listed the farthest attraction first and worked myself back to the hotel. 

Nishi Honganji was listed as the first order of the day. After a 900-meter hike, I reached a temple at the corner of the Shoji Dori and Horikawa Dori and entered the main gate. I was expecting a bigger temple though, and for a very popular temple, there was not a soul in the compound.

Apparently, it wasn’t the Nishi Honganji but the Koshiji Temple. I, among other visitors, can easily mistake one with the other, if not think it’s one and the same, because both share the same moat that runs along the walls of the temples. Koshiji is the first temple one will encounter coming from the direction of Kyoto Station, and the Nishi-Honganji Temple comes after.

Sanmon Gate at Koshoji Temple on Horikawa, Kyoto

Koshiji Temple: The Goei-do hall  (left) was built in 1912 and is 28m in height, on the right is the Amida-do

The neighbors though are related, as both are Jodo-Shinshu sect temples and have shukubos (temple lodging and a study room for its followers).

History relates that a split transpired in the Bukkoji Temple (now located in the Gion District). When control over Honganji was taken over by Rennjo (aka the “Restorer”), one of his followers in Bukkoji Temple, Kyogo, founded Koshoji. 

The chozuya

Detail of chozuya

Again, the Koshoji beside Nishi Honganji temple should not be mistaken with another temple located in Uji bearing the same name.

The structures in Koshoji are quite “young”. The large hall, Goei-do Hall, and the smaller hall, Amida-do, date from the early 20th century. The kyozo or the repository for sutras and chronicles of the temple history, however, was constructed earlier, in 1848, and makes it the oldest building in the complex.

The Goei-do hall

Amida-do hall

The covered passage linking the two halls

A ceremonial bell

The roof of the kyozo

Koshiji was not on my list but it was certainly a treat to chance upon it. But I don’t believe in coincidences, there is a reason why I ended up there. Perhaps, to breathe in the serenity and seclusion of a temple as it was in the past? Yes, it may be that.

The next door temple won't be the same. Just like the other popular temples in Kyoto, Nishi-Honganji will be packed and bustling for sure.

Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper.

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