Honman-ji is a famous temple where your heart will be stolen by the fleeting cherry blossoms of spring
You can find Honman-ji Temple (Honmanji) in a quiet residential district in the Demachiyanagi area, close to Shimogamo Shrine and the Kamo River. The temple has an air of serenity surrounding it.
It’s already been around 600 years since the establishment of Honman-ji Temple. The temple is the head temple of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism. During the Edo period, the high priest of Honman-ji, Nippo, prayed for the recovery fo the eight shogun of the Tokugawa clan, Toshimune. Yoshimune got better, and after this Honman-ji Temple was known as a praying place of the shogunate.
The highlight of Honman-ji, a temple a visitor to Kyoto should go to, is the big weeping cherry tree. This one-hundred-year old cherry tree is related to the famous, huge cherry tree of Maruyama Park. The sight of this huge cherry tree which looks as if it were reaching for the skies is enough to make anyone feel overpowered. The tree looks beautiful from every angle, but my personal recommendation is go under it, and then from there look at the cherry blossoms raining down on the ground.
Honman-ji is not only beautiful in spring, however, as you can also view tree peonies and autumn leaves at the temple. Honman-ji may not be big, but it is a nice spot off the beaten path where you can enjoy the four seasons of Kyoto in a quiet and calm atmosphere.
Huge weeping cherry tree
Entering through the west gate, you get to see this magnificent cherry tree. This tree is a weeping cherry tree, called shidarezakura in Japanese, and it blooms a little bit earlier than most cherry trees in Kyoto. The contrast between the blue sky and the pink cherry blossoms make for a splendid and majestic sight.
Many temples offer temple seals or stamps called “Goshuin,” but at temples of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism those who believe in the teachings of Nichiren can get a Goshudai seal. The seal in the picture is actually a sticker, so it can be glued to your “Goshuincho” notebook. This special cherry blossom motif-seal is only available in spring. In other seasons the monks will handwrite it to your Goshuincho.
Don't forget to visit the temple’s main hall
Before enjoying the splendid cherry blossoms, please pay your respects at the temple. Press your palms together in front of your chest without making any noise and bow once. By greeting the Buddha, you will experience emotional peace and be even more moved at the sight of the beautiful cherry blossoms.