Myohon-ji Temple (妙本寺 Myōhonji, the "Temple of the Wonderful Book"), or officially Chōkō-zan Myohon-ji (長興山妙本寺 Chōkōzan Myōhonji) was founded in 1260 and is one of the oldest Nichiren temples in Kamakura.

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Myōhon-ji is located in the Ōmachi (大町) area of Northern Kamakura. The stone column carries the temple's name as well as the Nichiren sect's mantra of "Namu Myōho Renge Kyō", a blessing of the Lotus Sutra.

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To the right of the stone column lies an octagonal structure, a sub-temple called Daienbō which nowadays serves as a kindergarten.

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The main gate of the temple is located further down the road. Beyond the gate lies the Valley of the Hiki (比企ヶ谷 Hikigayatsu) where the powerful Hiki clan had its residence. The ending "ヶ谷" is common in place names and usually read "-gaya"; in Kamakura though it is often pronounced "-gayatsu", as in Hikigayatsu and Matsubagayatsu.

Hiki Yoshikazu (比企能員, d. 1203) was a warrior and court noble of the Kamakura shogunate. His daughter was married to Minamoto no Yoriie, Yoritomo's son and the second shōgun of the Kamakura bakufu. Yoritomo's death in 1199 had left a power vacuum that was filled by a precarious coalition of vassals dominated by the Hiki and the Hōjō clans. Yoshikazu was on hostile terms with Yoriie's mother, Masako, herself a Hōjō. The Hōjō backed Minamoto no Sanetomo, Yoriie's younger brother. When Yoriie was relieved of his powers by a council of elders, he plotted with Yoshikazu, proposing to name both Sanetomo and his young son Minamoto no Ichiman, Yoshikazu's grandson, to succeed him and to have Sanetomo killed later.

Purportedly, this conversation was overheard by Masako; the Hōjō reacted immediately: Hōjō Tsukimune invited Yoshikazu under the pretence of peace talks and had him eliminated. The mansion of the Hiki clan was attacked and burned down. Eventually, Yoriie was assassinated in 1204, while Sanetomo became the third Kamakura shōgun. Hiki Yoshimoto, Yoshikazu's son who survived the Hōjō attack, constructed Myōhon-ji in memory of his slaughtered family.

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The Nitenmon Gate (二天門) after a walk of about 200 metres. it holds two statues of Bishamonten (毘沙門天, a god of war and warriors) and Jikokuten (持国天, the Guardian of the East)

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To the left of the gate is the Jakushi Myōjin, also known as Jakushi-dō, a shrine devoted to Wakasa no Tsubone, Yoriie's wife and the mother of the young Ichiman. When she learned that her son had been killed, she threw herself into a well. Her spirit was said to have transformed into a serpent. Hōjō Masamura, the seventh Hōjō, built the hall of worship to placate the spirit.

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A bronze statue of Nichiren in front of the Soshi-dō (Founder’s Hall) completed in 2002.

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The Soshi-dō (Founder’s Hall) holds a wooden statue of Nichiren from the 14th century as well as statues of Hiki Yoshikazu and his son Yoshimoto.

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The entrance to the Soshi-dō.

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The temple cemetery holds the graves of the slain members of the Hiki clan.

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Yagura, stone-carved graves typical for the Kamakura Period.

Links:


References:

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

Access:

A 10-minute walk from JR Kamakura Station (Yokosuka Line, Shōnan–Shinjuku Line).
Address: 1-15-1 Ōmachi, Kamakura 248-0007, phone: 0467-22-0777.
Admission: free.


Map:


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