Throughout the 2,500 years of its history, Buddhism has evolved over the years to meet the spiritual needs of the people. Our Shinshū Ōtani-ha (popularly known as Higashi Honganji) is one of the largest Buddhist denominations in Japan, with approximately 8,700 local temples, 50 regional headquarter temples (betsuin), and some 40 affiliated schools across the nation. There are also approximately 35 temples in overseas countries. The teaching of our denomination is referred to as Jōdo Shinshū (also known as Shin Buddhism, a form of Pure Land Buddhism). The Jōdo Shinshū tradition traces its beginnings to Shinran Shōnin (1173–1262), a Buddhist priest of the Kamakura Period and a student of Hōnen Shōnin, the founder of the Jōdoshū denomination. The central practice of the tradition is to wholeheartedly listen to the Buddhadharma (teachings), which was based upon Shinran’s conviction in opening a path to enlightenment for all.
The headquarters complex, officially called Shinshū Honbyō, covers an area of 93,140 square meters (about 23 acres), which is divided into two sections. The first includes the Founder’s Hall (Goei-dō) and Amida Hall (Amida-dō) with their precincts, while the second covers a cluster of smaller pavilions (inner halls). The first area, mainly used for ceremonies and other religious activities, is an enormous space that can accommodate as many followers as possible to attend the various events. The rebuilding of the two main halls and other pavilions took place during the Meiji period (1868–1912), following the original construction style of the Edo period (1603–1868). These are utilized for both followers and visitors alike.