Hongaku-ji (本覚寺, Temple of True Awakening) is a Buddhist temple of the Nichiren sect located in the centre of Kamakura. It is the temple closest to Kamakura Station.

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History:


In the 12th century, Minamoto no Yoritomo built an Ebisu Hall (Ebisudō) on the site of an existing Tendai temple. Ebisu is one of the Seven Gods of Fortune and was also revered in Kamakura. When Nichiren was pardoned from his exile on Sado Island, he returned to Kamakura and lived at Ebisudō. He resumed his missionary work, however, discouraged by the bakufu's refusal to heed his advice, Nichiren moved to Minobu (in modern-day Yamanashi Prefecture) where he spent the rest of his days.

Later, Kantō kubō Ashikaga Mochiuji (足利持氏, 1398–1439) founded the Hongaku-ji on the same spot and dedicated it to the priest Nisshitsu Shōnin. In 1436, Nicchō, the second head priest of Hongaku-ji, brought parts of Nichiren's ashes from Mount Minobu, a move that heightened the status of the temple significantly. It was also known as "Eastern Minobu" (Higashi Minobu) and "Nicchō-sama". Nicchō was said to have cured his eye disease by reading the Lotus Sutra and many visitors prayed at the temple in the hope for a cure.

The Main Hall (本堂 hondō) was constructed in 1919, behind the hall lies the Ebisudō. Opposite the building stands a belfry carrying a 700-kg bell that Nichiren purportedly won in a religious contest. According to legend, the bell was hauled all the way from Kisarazu (in present-day Chiba Prefecture) on a servant's back. The cemetery on the temple grounds holds the grave of the legendary swordsmith Gorō Nyūdō Masamune (五郎入道正宗, c.1264–1343), a resident of Kamakura.

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The Ebisu Hall, dedicated to Ebisu, the god of trade, commerce, and fishing.

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The Niōmon (仁王門) of Hongaku-ji located on a busy intersection. It is said to have been moved from a temple on Miura Peninsula in the early Meiji Period.

References:

  • Baldessari, Francesco, Kamakura - A Historical Guide, 2016

Access:

A 5-minute walk from JR Kamakura Station (Yokosuka Line, Shōnan–Shinjuku Line).

Address:

1-12-12 Komachi, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0006; phone: 0467-22-0490.

Admission:

free, always open.


References:

  • Baldessari, Francesco, Kamakura: A Historical Guide, 2016
  • Mutsu, Iso, Kamakura: Fact and Legend, Tuttle 2012

Map: