An Overview of the Buildings on the Temple Grounds (Part3)

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Seishidō (Seishi Hall)

Seishidō (Mahāsthāmaprāpta Hall)

Originally, this site was the location of Hōnen’s Ōtani meditation chamber, where he propagated the teaching of the nembutsu during his final days. The present Seishidō was rebuilt in 1530 in the irimoya (hip gable roof) style, with 21 meter long beams and 20 meter long crossbeams. This is the oldest building on the Chion-in grounds. At the time, the primary image housed in this building was that of Hōnen, but it was moved when the present Mieidō was constructed. Therefore, in its place, an image of the bodhisattva (one who has taken a pledge to save sentient beings) Seishi (Mahāsthāmaprāpta in Sanskrit) was enshrined here, which is the reason this building is called the Seishidō. Seishi is said to be the honjishin (original form) of Hōnen, so this building is also known as the Honjidō (Hall of the Original Form). The image of Seishi has been designated an Important Cultural Property. The placard hanging in the front interior of the Seishidō, which reads “Chionkyōin,” was written by Emperor Go-Nara and is said to be the origins of the temple’s name, Chion-in.

Gobyō (Mausoleum) (Designated by Kyoto Prefecture as an Important Cultural Property, Closed to the Public)


This is where Hōnen’s remains are interred. The mausoleum is a rectangular building with an area of six meters square and a tiled roof.  In the front, there is a Chinese-style gate, and the mausoleum is surrounded by a sacred hedge. After Hōnen died in his meditation hermitage, which was located near this site, in 1212, his disciples built a mausoleum and interred his remains. The current mausoleum was rebuilt in 1613 with a donation from Matsudaira Izu-no-kami, the lord of the Tsuchiura Castle in Hitachi Province (present-day Ibaraki Prefecture). The mausoleum is a stylish building, and the railings have magnificent Momoyama period carvings with themes such as “dragon in the clouds,” “phoenix in the paulownia,” “nightingale in the plums,” “kirin (animal from Chinese mythology) in the clouds,” and “peacock in the peonies.”

kirin(animal from Chinese mythology)
one of the railings("dragon in the clouds")

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