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Karamon Gate of Nishihongwan-ji (Hongwanji) Temple

Hongwanji (本願寺), also known as Nishi Hongwan-ji (西本願寺), a very famous World Heritage Site, is the headquarters of the Hongwanji denomination of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism (浄土真宗本願寺派, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-school).

The Karamon (唐門, a type of gate seen in Japanese architecture, such as temples and shrines) on the premises is also referred to as Higurashi no Mon (日暮門), meaning that its viewers will be so totally engrossed by its beauty that they don’t notice when the sun (日) goes down (暮れる).

The gate is adorned with absolutely gorgeous carvings of auspicious animals all over, such as giraffes, Hohoh (鳳凰, Chinese imaginary phoenix), dragons, tigers, Karajishi (唐獅子, lions), and peacocks. It is a vaer rare opportunity to see such variety of carvings in one place at a time. In addition, the gate has a classic Hiwada-buki roof (檜皮葺屋根, a roof made of white cedar barks), which is a traditional and exquisite roofing method very unique to Japan. Higurashi no Mon is arguably anvery special architecture in Japan.

Kyoto city has experienced so many fires and once had become a burnt field. I think this is nothing but a miracle to have this Karamon survived in such a complete status. The beauty of Karamon is just breathtaking.

Akane Kibune

Nishi Hongwanji Mae, Kyoto city bus



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