Tsukiji Hongan-ji (Tokyo), Hondo, the temple's main pavilion

Tsukiji Hongan-ji

Eclectic-style Temple of the Jodo-Shinshu School in Tokyo

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Tsukiji Hongan-ji is a Buddhist temple of the Jodo-Shinshu school, located near the Sumida River, in Chuo ward, slightly east in the center of Tokyo. It is easily recognizable thanks to its original and impressive architecture, of oriental inspiration with European touches, designed by architect Ito Chuta in the beginning of the 20th century.

Initially founded in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, Tsukiji Hongan-ji temple was transferred in 1679 at its current location, near the Sumida-gawa and on former swamp lands that had been dried by the monks in charge of the spiritual site. Tsukiji Hongan-ji is a temple of the Jodo-Shinshu Buddhist sect, also known as the True Pure Land School established by monk Shinran (1173 – 1263); this current’s main temple is located in Kyoto.

Original and multicultural architecture

The temple’s buildings were burnt down several times and eventually rebuilt in reinforced concrete at the beginning of the 20th century under the guidance of Japanese architect Ito Chuta (1867 - 1954). His inspiration was drawn from the Indian origins of Buddhism, as well as more Western religions like Christian churches, to create a modern impressive architecture that is unique for a Japanese temple’s design. Its style echoes the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, 2 international artistic trends of the times.

Built in 1934, the main hall hondo features:

  • A dome with curves referring to the leaves of the sacred tree of the Bodhi;
  • Colorful stained glass and a majestic organ made by German organ builder Walcker; as well as,
  • Tall columns reminding of classical Greek culture.

The various exotic animal sculptures are a personal addition of Ito Chuta, who was fond of the yokai culture. The Buddhist altar, behind which is sitting a statue of Amida Buddha, is more conventional and profusely ornamented. It faces the many rows of chairs for worshipers.

Tsukiji Hongan-ji (Tokyo), Buddhist altar in the main pavilion

Daily prayers are held at the temple and visitors are welcome to attend as long as they remain discreet. Concerts are also organized on the last Friday of each month near noon. The other events held at the temple follow the yearly calendar of Japanese celebrations, such as:

As its name suggests, Tsukiji Hongan-ji is located near the former Tsukiji Fish Market, and it is consequently possible to continue the visit to Tsukiji Outer Market and try fresh local specialties. The temple also has a café and a restaurant serving traditional Japanese meals starting at 8 a.m.

⬇️ Further down this page, discover our visit guide in Tsukiji Hongan-ji and around.
By Kanpai Updated on July 09, 2024 Tsukiji Hongan-ji