Important Buddhist Sites

Important locations to Nichiren Buddhism are:
  • Hasedera is a temple of the Jodo sect, that is most famous for its statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The statue shows Kannon with eleven heads, each representing a characteristic of the goddess. The 9.18 meter tall, gilded wooden statue is regarded as one of the largest wooden sculpture in Japan, and can be viewed in the temple's main building, the Kannon-do Hall. It was carved from the same tree as the similarly tall Kannon statue worshipped at the Hasedera Temple in Nara Prefecture.

    photo of a Kannon Temple 
            shrine

    Hasedera is built along the slope of a wooded hill. A pretty garden with ponds is found at the base of the slope just after entering. The temple's main buildings are built further up the slope, reached via stairs. Along the way stands the Jizo-do Hall with hundreds of small statues of the Jizo Bodhisattva who helps the souls of dead children to reach the paradise.

  • The The Great Buddha of Kamakura (Kamakura Daibutsu) is a bronze statue of Amida Buddha, which stands on the grounds of Kotokuin Temple. With a height of 13.35 meters, it is the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan, surpassed only by the statue in Nara's Todaiji Temple.

    decanter at the Great Daibatsu

    The statue was cast in 1252 and originally located inside a large temple hall. However, the temple buildings were destroyed multiple times by typhoons and a tidal wave in the 14th and 15th centuries. So, since 1495, the Buddha has been standing in the open air.


  • The three temples in Matsubagayatsu Ankokuron-ji claims to have on its grounds the cave where the master, with the help of a white monkey, hid from his persecutors. temple at Ankokuronji
    (It must be noted however that Hosshō-ji in Zushi's Hisagi district makes the same claim, and with a better historical basis.) Within Ankokuron-ji lie also the spot where Nichiren used to meditate while admiring Mount Fuji, the place where his disciple Nichiro was cremated, and the cave where he is supposed to have written his Risshō Ankoku Ron.

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  • temple at Koke-dera

    NearbyMyōhō–ji (also called "Koke-dera" or "Temple of Moss"), a much smaller temple, was erected in an area where Nichiren had his home for 19 years.

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  • temple at ChoshojiThe third Nichiren temple in Nagoe, Chōshō-ji, also claims to lie on the very spot where it all started. The Nichiren Tsujiseppō Ato (日蓮聖人辻説法跡) on Komachi Ōji in the Komachi district contains the very stone from which he used to harangue the crowds, claiming that the various calamities that were afflicting the city at the moment were due to the moral failings of its citizens.

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  • temple at Ryukoji

    The former execution ground at Katase's Ryūkō-ji where Nichiren was about to be beheaded (an event known to Nichiren's followers as the Tatsunokuchi Persecution (龍ノ口法難)), and where he was miraculously saved when thunder struck the executioner. Nichiren had been condemned to death for having written the Risshō Ankoku Ron.

    Every year, on September 12, Nichiren devotees gather to celebrate the anniversary of the miracle. The Kesagake no Matsu (袈裟掛けの松), the pine tree on the roads between Harisuribashi and Inamuragasaki from which Nichiren hanged his kesa (a Buddhist stole) while on his way to Ryūkō-ji. The original pine tree however died long ago and, after having been replaced many times, now no longer exists.


Buddhist Influence

Photo of Great Buddha StatueKamakura is known among Buddhists for having been during the 13th century the cradle of Nichiren Buddhism. Founder Nichiren wasn't a native: he was born in Awa Province, in today's Chiba Prefecture, but it was only natural to a preacher to come here because at the time the city was the political center of the country. He settled down in a straw hut in the Matsubagayatsu district, where three temples (Ankokuron-ji, Myōhō–ji, and Chōshō- ji), have been fighting for centuries for the honor of being the true heir of the master.

During his turbulent life Nichiren came and went, but Kamakura always remained at the heart of his religious activities. It's here that, when he was about to be executed by the Hōjō Regent for being a troublemaker, he was allegedly saved by a miracle, it's in Kamakura that he wrote his famous Risshō Ankoku Ron (立正安国論?), or "Treatise on Peace and Righteousness", it's here that he was rescued and fed by monkeys and it's here that he preached.

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The Legacy

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