Otani Sobyo Mausoleum (大谷祖廟)

Otani Sobyo Mausoleum is the grave of Shinran, the founder of the Shinshu sect Otani school (Higashi Hongan-ji Temple), which is located in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. It is commonly called Higashi Otani.
(This is because there is also the Otani Honbyo Mausoleum (Nishi Otani) which the Jodo Shinshu (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) Hongan-ji school (Nishi Hongan-ji Temple) considers as the grave of Shinran, the founder of its sect, in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City.)


It originates from the Otani-byodo Mausoleum (later called Otani Hongan-ji Temple), which was the grave of Shinran built at Otani, Higashiyama Ward in 1272. In 1670, the grave of the founder was relocated to the present place.

Many believers of the Shinshu sect Otani school (the Higashi Hongan-ji Temple) continuously visit the Mausoleum in the precinct and at Higashi Otani Cemetery where there are many graves of their ancestors to worship.

On the nights of Obon festival (a Festival of the Dead or Buddhist All Soul's Day) (August 14-16) every year, the 'Higashi Otani Mantoe Festival' is held.


In 1272 the Otani-byodo Mausoleum (later Higashi Hongan-ji Temple), the grave of Shinran, was built.

(For the details on the history of Hongan-ji Temple, see the article about the history of the Hongan-ji Temple)
In 1465 the Otani Hongan-ji Temple was destroyed by monk-soldiers from Enryaku-ji Temple Saito (West Tower).

After destruction, the founder's grave was preserved by a person named Ganchi INOUE and it came to be called Otani Dojo.

In 1532 the Yamashina Hongan-ji Temple was destroyed (Tenbun War) and the Otani Dojo was also destroyed. It was restored by Yugan, a descendant of Ganchi.

In 1571, the Otani Dojo was destroyed at the time of the Ishiyama War.

In 1589 Yugan's wife Myoyu and son Yusei were given Shuinjo(Shogunate license to trade)for land tax free by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI for the restoration.

In 1602 when the Hongan-ji Temple split into east and west, Kyonyo, the twelfth head priest of the Higashi Hongan-ji Temple had the tentative grave of Shinran and successive heads of Hongan-ji Temple built.

In 1603 when the Chion-in Temple was expanded, it was given more land on Mt. Toribe, which was said to belong to the Ennin-ji Temple where Shinran was cremated by a proportion of Zenryo, the husband of Yusei's sister.

The Otani Dojo hall was moved to Shijo Tomino-koji by Yusei and it had the Tokusho-ji (徳勝寺) Temple (present day Tokusho-ji (徳正寺) Temple. A temple of the Shinshu sect Otani school) built in 1600 before the construction of the Chion-in Temple by an order of Kyonyo.

After receiving the land for temple on Mt. Toribe, Zenryo had the Shokyu-ji Temple built, changing its name from Otani Dojo.

On the former land, the Sotai-in Temple, a tatchu (small housing) of the Chion-in Temple was built and the monument of founder's grave was left by Michikiyo SHOYO, one of the construction officers of the Chion-in Temple.

In 1639 the Shokyu-ji Temple became a subsidiary of the Nishi Hongan-ji Temple.

After that, the Shokyu-ji Temple was maintained as the grave of Shinran of the Nishi Hongan-ji Temple and became the Otani Sobyo Mausoleum (Nishi Otani).

Since the Shokyu-ji Temple originating from the ruins of the Otani Hongan-ji Temple became a subsidiary of the Nishi Hongan-ji Temple, Takunyo, the fourteenth head priest of the Higashi Hongan-ji Temple, was requested to build a new Mausoleum.

In 1670, Takunyo moved the tentative graves of Shinran and the successive heads of the Hongan-ji Temple in the precincts of the Higashi Hongan-ji Temple to their present location with both graves of Kyonyo and Sennyo, and named them Otani Gobo.

In 1699 Ichinyo, the fifteenth head priest of Higashi Hongan-ji Temple, started reconstruction of the Mausoleum.

In the following year, construction was interrupted by the nirvana of Ichinyo, but in 1701 Shinnyo, the sixteenth head priest of the Higashi Hongan-ji Temple, restarted the construction after the stately ceremony on first anniversary of his death, and relocated the founder's grave and completed the construction of the main hall.

In 1703 Shinyo held the ceremony for the grave.

In 1709 Toraishi (literally, 'a stone of tiger') was placed on the founder's grave.

In 1745 33,000 square meters of land was donated by the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

In 1820 a new road for Otani was constructed.

In 1857 a dry field on the north and south sides of the new road of Otani was purchased. The Yotsuashimon Gate (four-legged gate) was moved.

It was called Otani Gobo during the Edo period, but its name was changed to Otani Kansatsu in 1872 and to Otani Betsuin in 1876. It was defined as the outland precinct of Higashi Hongan-ji Temple and the name was changed to Otani Honbyo in 1952, and then the name was changed to the present Otani Sobyo in 1981.

The Higashi Hongan-ji Temple suffered fire four times during the Edo period, and the Otani Sobyo Mausoleum was the evacuation center for goshin-ei (portrait) of Shinran each time. Since the second fire was happened on December 16, Goshoki Hon-ko (a memorial services for Shinran held in the head temple of Jodo Shinshu sect) of this year was performed at the Otani Sobyo Mausoleum for seven days and nights.


477, Maruyama-cho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture


Fifteen minutes walk from Shijo Station (Keihan) on the Keihan Main Line, operated by the Keihan Electric Railway.

Twenty minutes walk from Kawaramachi Station (Kyoto Prefecture) on the Hankyu Kyoto Line, operated by Hankyu Corporation.

Twenty minutes walk from Higashiyama Station (Kyoto Prefecture) on the Tozai Line, operated by the Kyoto Municipal Subway.

Ten minutes walk from Gion bus stop of the Kyoto City Bus.

Neighboring information

The Chion-in Temple

The Kodai-ji Temple

The Yasaka-jinja Shrine

Maruyama Park (Kyoto Prefecture)

The Higashiyama Choraku-ji Temple (Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City)

The Sorin-ji Temple (Kyoto City)

[Original Japanese]