Along with Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples are the most numerous, famous and important religious buildings in Japan. The Japanese word for a Buddhist temple is tera(寺?), and the same kanji also has the pronunciation ji, so temple names often end with -ji or -dera. There is also another ending, -in(院?, normally used for minor temples). Famous temples as Enryaku-ji, Kiyomizu-dera, and Kōtoku-in illustrate the naming patterns.
As in the case of a Shinto shrine, a Buddhist temple is not primarily a place of worship: its most important buildings are used for the safekeeping of sacred objects, and are not accessible to worshipers. There are specialized buildings for certain rites, but these are usually open only to a limited number of participants. Religious mass gatherings in the style of Christian churches do not take place with regularity and are not held inside the temple. If many people are involved in a ceremony, it will assume a festive character and will be held outdoors.
Chion-in(知恩院,Chion-in?) in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan is the headquarters of the Jōdo-shū (Pure Land Sect) founded by Hōnen (1133–1212), who proclaimed that sentient beings are reborn in Amida Buddha's Western Paradise (Pure Land) by reciting the nembutsu, Amida Buddha's name.
The vast compounds of Chion-in include the site where Hōnen settled to disseminate his teachings and the site where he died.