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Choshoji

Official Name Ishii-zan Chosho-ji {Pronounced e-she-e-zan choh-shoh-gee}
Religious sect Nichiren sect, Buddhism
Founded in 1263
by Nagakatsu Ishii {nah-gah-kah-tsu e-she-e}
Founding priest Nichiren {nee-che-ren}
Main object of worship Statue of Nichiren and Sanbo honzon
Address 12-17, Zaimokuza 2-chome, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0013
Area size 3,300 square meters
Location 1,100 meters southwest of Kamakura Station
Time needed to get there 20 minutes
Admission Free
Open 9:00-17:00
Annual event Daikoku To-e on February 11
Phone number 0467-25-4300
Rest room Available

Historical Overview



Nagakatsu Ishii, the founder of the Temple, was the lord of the manor here and faithful follower of Priest Nichiren (1222-1282), the founder of Nichiren sect Buddhism. When Priest Nichiren came back to Kamakura in 1263 after deportation to the Izu {e-zoo} Peninsula, Ishii cordially accommodated him with a hermitage inside Ishii's manor, which later was expanded to a temple called Honkokuji.

However, Honkokuji was relocated to Kyoto in 1345 at the request of Takauji Ashikaga {tah-kah-woo-gee ah-she-kah-gah} (1305-1358), who established the Ashikaga government in Kyoto. At the site where Honkokuji had existed, Priest Nissei erected a new temple, and named it as Ishiizan Chosho-ji, that is the origin of what we see today. (Chosho is another way of pronunciation for Nagakatsu.)

Like Myohoji and Ankokuronji in the vicinity, Choshoji also claims that Priest Nichiren's hermitage in Kamakura had existed right here, but various records indicate otherwise.

Annual observances

February 11
(holiday: National Foundation Day)
Daikoku To-e {dye-kok toh-a} or austere discipline
For 100 days beginning November 1 every year, young Nichiren sect priests who practice asceticism, gather at a temple in Ichikawa city, Chiba Prefecture and start to purify themselves by ablution, eating only vegetable food and practicing asceticism day and night. Suffering is considered a way to attain a religious goal. About 150 young Nichiren priests nationwide join this program. In the dead of winter, they get up at 2:30 a.m. and have cold-water ablutions seven times a day before going to bed at 11:00 p.m. With the austere exercises and poor food (only twice a day, usually with rice porridge and miso soup), all of them lose at least 10 kilograms in the end and suffer from vitamin deficiency syndrome. On the final day of February 11, some of them come to the Temple (by train from Chiba to Kamakura, and then walk), and finish the 100-day ascetic purity rite by pouring bone-chilling water upon themselves at 12:30 p.m. They wear only white loincloths. One of the most notable events during winter in Kamakura. Incidentally, Nichiren sect priests are not allowed to perform religious services officially without undergoing this discipline.


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