Hokekyo: A little slice of Kyoto in Chiba

Nestled in the backwater town of Nakayama is a cluster of around 25 temples and shrines. Leaving the station, we found ourselves strolling along a Showa-era street hawking numerous traditional fares including the ubiquitous Chiba peanut snacks.

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Traditional Street leading to Hokekyo in Ishikawa, Chiba

We passed through Nio-mon, a large traditional buddhist gate, with ornate carvings on its wooden beams. This soon gave way to a leafy street of sakura trees. A popular cherry blossom viewing spot in Spring, rows of temples fanned from both side of the narrow street.

Of the numerous temples, Hokekyo was the most impressive of all. Founded in 1260 by Nichiren Shonin, written documents by him are still housed within the temple today. As a sprawling complex, Hokekyo is made up of several different buildings, the oldest of which is Hokke-do, where Nichiren Shonin first preached his interpretation of the lotus sutra.

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Hokkedo of Hokekyo

Then there is also the Gojyu-no-to-In. A five-storey pagoda, it was built in 1622 to repose the spirits of Koshihitsu Konami’s parents who were important allies of the lord of Kaga, then the second largest daimyo.

The Soshi-do hall boasts an interesting architecture of Hiyoku-Irimoya-Tsukuri style with its jointed gable roofs. The structure is so rare that only two buildings with such an architecture exist in Japan today.

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Soshi-do

A shady path leads towards the Shogyo-den, which houses the two national treasures written by Nichiren Shonin as well as the other 64 important cultural properties. Built during the Showa era, it utilises state-of-the-art technology to ensure the perpetuity of these important treasures.

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The Shogyo-den houses important cultural artefacts dating from the 13th century

The gardens of Hokekyo was also beautifully cared for, and even though it was neither autumn nor spring, its beauty was undeniable.

outside tokyo
The beautiful gardens of Hokekyo

We continued to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the various temples around the vicinity. Some were beautifully manicured, others a little more rugged. But everyone of them has a history to tell. Exploring this street, we felt like we were in a mini-Kyoto, surrounded by temples everywhere.

 

 

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