The Higashi Honganji temple was empty, but so was the Nishi Honganji temple I visited next. Nishi Honganji, which is registered as a World Heritage Site, had also few visitors because of the Covid-19 catastrophe. Even the spacious precincts of the temple were deserted, with only a few people walking around.
Of course, there was no sign of an increase in the number of visitors even when I went up to the Amida Hall and Goeido Hall. There were almost no people in the halls, and I could not hear any chanting. The halls were filled with silence. Perhaps it was a different kind of silence than usual, but since this is the head temple of the Honganji sect of the Jodo Shinshu sect, perhaps this kind of silence was more appropriate.
As I walked on the cold tatami mats in the dimly lit Amida Hall, I looked out and saw four people walking on the curved stone pavement. They seemed to have finished their prayers and were making their way towards the Amida Hall gate leading to the outside. Not a few of the buildings in Nishi Honganji are designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties. The Amida Hall where I am standing is a National Treasure, and the Amida Hall Gate where the four people were heading is an Important Cultural Property. At any rate, this is a historic Buddhist temple where even the hand-watering house on the temple grounds is designated as an important cultural property.
April 11, 2021
Nishi Honganji, Kyoto
SONY ALPHA 7R II
ZEISS BATIS 2/40 CF