Kyoto, Japan


Hongan-ji (本願寺, Temple of the Primal Vow), also archaically romanized as Hongwanji, is the collective name of the largest school of Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism (which further sub-divides into the Nishi and Higashi branches). 'Hongan-ji' may also refer to any one of several actual temple buildings associated with the sect.

The Hongan-ji was established as a temple in 1321, on the site of the Otani Mausoleum, where Shinran, the founder of the Jōdo Shinshū ("True Pure Land") was buried. The mausoleum was attended by Shinran's grandson (through daughter Kakushinni), Kakue. Kakue's own son, Kakunyo, became the first chief priest of the Hongan-ji and third monshu (spiritual leader), and dedicated it to the worship of Amitābha (Amida). The Hongan-ji first gained power and importance in the 15th century, when Rennyo became its eighth monshu. However, the Tendai based on Mount Hiei saw this expansion as a threat and attacked the Hongan-ji three times with their army of sōhei. Rennyo fled to Yoshizaki-gobō, where he established a new temple compound.

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