Hokekyoji Temple Cherry Blossom
Hokekyoji Temple near Tokyo is an important Nichiren-sect temple famous for its cherry blossom in season and several historical temple halls and pagoda.
Nakayama Hokekyoji Temple & Cherry Blossom 中山法華経寺
Statue of the Buddha dating from 1719
Those looking for a relaxing outing to a historical, yet little-known temple complex should spend the 25 minutes it takes to head east from Akihabara Station to Hokekyoji, one of the main temples of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism.
Hokekyoji Temple is an important Nichiren temple in Chiba Prefecture
At the main entrance stands the impressive Niomon Gate, built in 1927. The gate has been named a national important cultural asset.
Off on the right is a statue of Nichiren, the founder of the sect. The Nichiren sect (1222-1282) was established in the 13th century and has followers in a number of countries.
From the front gate to the main area is a cherry tree-lined street with small shops selling amazake and other traditional Japanese drinks, along with foods and toys. There is an old cemetery on the left side of this street.
When you get to the end of the narrow street, you will come to an open area. On your left is the Shoshido, an impressive hall that was built some time prior to 1678 and rebuilt in 1741.
Near the Shoshido is a statue of the Buddha from 1719, a bell from 1964 and a five-story pagoda which is almost 400 years old.
The pagoda, called Gojunoto, was built in 1622. Not far off there is a second, more modern stone pagoda which looks slightly out of place.
The Edo Period Gojunoto or Five Story Pagoda is the tallest in Chiba Prefecture
A little farther on is the most important building, called the Hokekyoji Honin.
It is here where you can see a nice doll display that runs for a few weeks until Hina Matsuri, which is celebrated on March 3rd.
One of the most important parts of Hokekyoji is the Ekyo-ji (法華経寺), a sub-temple which contains the Rissho Ankoku Ron, one of Nichiren's most important writings.
It is regarded as one of Japan's national treasures, and is available for the public to see only on November 3rd of each year.
The Hokeido which dates from the 13th century
The oldest on-site original building is called Hokeido, which, has been standing since the later part of the 13th century. It is located behind the Shoshido.
In all, there are more than 30 buildings in the temple complex, a few of which are a short hike away and a little difficult to find if you don't have a map.
Perhaps the best times to visit the temple are in early March, to see the aforementioned Doll Festival that runs for a few weeks until March 3rd, and in late March, to see the cherry blossoms. The cherry blossoms are spectacular.
Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival) display
Often during the first four or five days of the new year, there is a man with a monkey giving an entertaining show on the grounds near the Shoshido. Donations are welcomed by the man - and the monkey.
Hokekyoji is known for its ritual of 100 days of asceticism, said to be one of the most rigorous in Japan.
Hundreds of priests from all over Japan gather annually from November 1 to February 10 and practice asceticism for 100 days.
They rise at 2 am and between 3 am and 10 pm, pour water on themselves seven times a day for purification. Then, they recite sutras.
Torii gates within the temple grounds
Hokekyoji2-10-1 Nakayama, IchikawaChiba Prefecture 272-0813Tel: 047 334 3433
The temple is a seven-minute walk from the Shimosa-Nakayama Station on the JR Sobu Local Line. Shimosa-Nakayama is about 24 minutes from Akihabara Station.
Alternatively, the temple is a three-minute walk from Keisei-Nakayama Station on the Keisei Electric Main Line. Keisei-Nakayama is 40 minutes from Keisei Ueno Station via local train.
You can also take an express from Keisei Ueno Station and change to a local at Keisei Yawata Station with no platform change. This takes about 32 minutes.
WARNING: The Keisei Main Line can be quite confusing. Not all of the expresses stop at or even go by Keisei-Yawata Station. Tell the stationmaster that you want to go to Keisei-Yawata Station.
Cherry blossom abounds in late March, Hokekyoji Temple
Hours & Admission
Hokekyoji Temple is open from 9 am to 4 pm from October through March, and 9 am to 5 pm from April through September. There is no admission fee.
Hina matsuri display, Hokekyoji Temple, Chiba Prefecture
Seasonal Flowers, Fall Colors and Special Events
February - Plum blossomsMarch 3rd - Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival)Late March - Cherry blossomsLate April - Satsukis, azaleas, irises and peonies are in flowerLate May - HydrangeasMid-July - LotusAugust 13-16 - Bon festival with bon dancingLate September - Red spider lilies, olives and other flowersLate October - Cherry, ginkgo and maple trees.November 15-18 - Antique market
Hina matsuri display, Hokekyoji TempleThe Niomon Gate, built in 1927, Hokekyoji TempleStreet leading to Hokekyoji Temple