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Kuon-ji Temple

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Kuon-ji Temple

Today we visit the Kuon-ji (久遠寺) which is a major Buddhist temple in Yamanashi Prefecture. Hidden away far into the mountains of Yamanashi, it is locally referred to as the Minobu-san Temple, after the mountain upon which it is built. Reaching it itself is a challenge as we traveled almost 2 hours on a local train and then a bus, but as if that was not enough, to reach the temple there is the ultimate challenge of climbing 287 Bodaitei steps.

Sanmon Gate, Kuon-ji

The first San-mon Gate was built in 1642. Unfortunately it was burned in 1865. The gate was later rebuilt in 1907. It is one of the three famous gates in Kanto Province.

A stone path from the Sanmon Gate leads up to the base of the Bodaitei steps.

Bodaitei Steps, Kuon-ji

The Bodai Stairs have been constructed from the donations of the residents of Sado Island in 1632. The height of the stairs is about 104m from the ground. The 287 stairs lead directly to the Main Hall of Kuon-ji.

The stairs are divided into seven parts which relates to the seven letters “Na-Mu-Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge-Kyo”. Bodai means process to enlightenment.

On a lighter note, after completing the 287 steps, I did experience a blinding light for a few seconds 🙂

Hondo, Kuon-ji

The Main Hall was lost in big fire in 1875. The current Main Hall was rebuilt and Opening Ceremony with new Lord Buddha statue has held in May 1985. The black-and-white painting “BOKURYU” (Black Dragon) on the ceiling by Matazo Kayama is a masterpiece.

The Main Hall is full of wooden Buddhist decorations.

Goju-no-to Pagoda, Kuon-ji

Just opposite to the Main hall lies the five story pagoda. Originally the Pagoda was built at Minobusan in 1619 by the donation of Lady Jufuku-In, Lord Toshitune Maeda’s mother in Kaga Prefecture. Unfortunately the first Pagoda was burnt in 1829, and it was lost again by a massive fire in 1875.

This Five-Storied Pagoda at Minobusan has been rebuilt under the pious patronage of supporters from all over Japan. The current Pagoda indicates completion of recovering all Buddhist buildings at Monobusan after Meiji period. This Pagoda has been reconstructed as recovering the original Pagoda by combination of traditional and modern techniques. The opening ceremony of the Pagoda was held from May 13th to 17th for 5 days in a row in 2009.

Near its base you can also find the belfry.

Seishinkaku Soshido, Kuon-ji

Right next to the main hall, lies the Seishinkaku Soshido or the Founders’ Hall. The Hall originally belonged to Nezumi- yama Kannoji Temple, which was established by 11th Shogun lenari Tokugawa (feudal governor of Japan) in 1836. As the Hall was unfortunately abolished in 1841, it was rebuilt here in 1881.

The magnificent shrine within the Hall, which keeps statue of Nichiren-Shonin, was donated by supporters in Tokyo. Buddhist instruments for ceremonies as the gift canopy and banners were donated by supporters in Osaka and Kyoto.

Although there are many other attractions here, we were late and it was time to leave.

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