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Daigyoji

Official Name Chokeizan Shokaku-in Daigyoji {Pronounced choh-kay-zan shoh-kak-in dye-gyo-gee}
Religious sect Nichiren Sect, Buddhism
Founded in Unknown
by Unknown
Founding priest Nitcho {knit-cho} (1239-1326)
Main object of worship Goddess of Childbirth
Address 9-28, Komachi 1-chome, Kamakura, Kanagawa 247-0006
Area size Approximately 2,000 square meters
Location 150 meters east of Kamakura Station
Time needed to get there 3 minutes
Admission Free (Open yard)
Phone number 0467-22-0639
Restrooms Not available

Historical Overview



Originally, the Temple was erected as an offshoot of the neighboring Myohonji. Legend relates that when Priest Nitto {nit'toh} (birth and death years unknown) was the fifth chief priest of the Temple in the mid Kamakura Period (1185-1333), he encountered a woman ghost and since then the Temple's main object of worship has become the goddess of childbirth. It has long been embraced by pregnant women for an easy childbirth.

According to the legend, Priest Nitto used to commute Myohonji everyday. One day he heard locals telling about a ghost that often appeared near the Nameri {nah-meh-re} River late at night. It was some time around 1243. Rumor had it that those who saw the ghost fell sick immediately or met with misfortunes. The rumor swirled fast. People tried to get away from this district for fear of seeing the ghost. One night, Priest Nitto stayed long in Myohonji and had to go back to Daigyoji in the dead of the night. As the Nameri River runs between the two temples, he had to wade across it. As he approached Hongakuji, near where the river flew, he saw a young woman standing at the river-bank with a baby in her arms. Her kimono was smeared with blood and her hair disheveled. He instantly recalled the rumor of the ghost. She must be the one, he thought. "Who are you?" asked Priest Nitto. "I am Mrs. Kageyu Akiyama", replied the woman, "I did badly after childbirth and had to die. To my regret, my child fell into company with me. I am trying to cross this river, but, once I get into the water, this child get too heavy like a stone and I cannot go forward."

Priest Nitto said to her, "I will chant a sutra for you. You should cross the river while I am chanting." As he began chanting, she walked into the river. But, she was unable to advance. "Priest, would you carry this baby to the other side?. I will stay here.", said the woman. Priest Nitto received the baby and moved forward into the river chanting the sutra loudly. He could narrowly cross the river, but only to find a few withered leaves in his hands, not the baby. He looked back. The baby was back to her arms. Priest Nitto chanted the sutra even louder and urged the woman to quickly wade across. This time, they she did it well and reached the other side of the river, when, however, Priest Nitto found the woman and her baby just disappeared.

Several days later, Priest Nitto dreamed a strange dream, in which a beautiful woman thanked him for his help the other night and left a brocade pouch with a piece of gold in it as a token of appreciation. The next day, he visited Kageyu Akiyama, who was a retainer of Yoritomo Minamoto, the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate, and showed the pouch. Akiyama said that her wife and child had really been dead for a few weeks and acknowledged the pouch was also hers. Hearing this, Priest Nitto erected a monument in the Temple for the solace of the woman and her child praying easy childbirth for pregnant women at large. Since then no woman ghost haunted near the river.

Today, there is the Ebisudoo {eh-bis-doh} Bridge spanning the Namerigawa River in front of Hongakuji. Right here was the woman ghost said to have appeared. The Temple, sacred to the goddess of childbirth, enshrines a baby's statue and a brocade pouch in its feretory, and attracts a number of pregnant women for an easy childbirth. Locals call the Temple "Onme-sama". As if to help those women with modern science, a medical doctor is practicing pediatrics in the Temple grounds. Easy delivery and raising healthy babies would be sure things for pregnant women if they offer a prayer here and visit the doctor after childbirth.

Stray worshipers are unable to enter the main hall. The statue of goddess of childbirth is available for viewing only on April 8, birthday of Sakyamuni. The Temple is within a stone's throw of Kamakura Station. A red-colored gate stands at Wakamiya Oji street between Kamakura Police Department and Post Office near the Second Torii gate of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. This is the rear gate and the main gate is placed the other side at Komachi Oji street.


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