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Jogyoji

Official Name Hokyuzan Daizen-in Jogyoji {Pronounced hoh-kyu-zan dye-zen-in joe-gyo-gee}
Religious sect Nichiren sect, Buddhism
Founded in 1313
by Unknown
Founding priest Nichihan {nee-chee-han} (1201-1320)
Main object of worship Statue of Priest Nichiren and Odaimoku Tablet
Address 8-17 Ohmachi 2-chome, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0007
Area size Approximately 1,500 square meters
Location 700 meters southeast of Kamakura Station
Time needed to get there 15 minutes
Admission Free
Open 9:00-18:00
Phone number 0467-22-5381
Rest room Not available

Historical Overview



Almost all literatures referring to the Temple tell us a story about a typical Japanese samurai who committed a seppuku ritual suicide here at the dawn of modern Japan. His name is Matsunosuke Hiroki {mah-tsu-noh-soo-keh he-roe-kee} (1838-1863). The Tokugawa Shogunate began its national isolation policy in 1636, closing off to foreigners except Chinese and Dutch for nearly 200 years until U.S. Commodore Matthew C. Perry (1794-1858), with a fleet of heavily armed black ships, sailed in near the coast of Uraga {woo-rah-gah}, the other side of Kamakura of the Miura Peninsula, in 1853 to negotiate a treaty to open up Japan's harbors. He brought President Fillmore's letter addressed to the Shogun, threatening that if refused, Japan would face a losing war. The government had to decide whether or not to lift the isolation policy. The conservatives insisted to fight against the foreigners to keep Japan closed, whereas liberalists demanded to establish diplomatic relations with foreign countries. A year later in 1854, Japan signed the Treaty of Peace and Amity with America and opened up two ports: Shimoda of the Izu {e-zoo} Peninsula and Hakodate {hah-koh-dah-teh} in Hokkaido. The first American Consul General Townsend Harris (1804-1878) was dispatched to Shimoda and he urged Japan to further open its market. In 1858, a high-ranking government official of Japan called Naosuke Ii {nah-oh-soo-keh e-e} (1815-1860) decided on entering into the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with America amid strong oppositions from the conservatives, and yet without getting an approval of the Emperor. The Treaty was signed on July 29, 1858, which was, meanwhile, made of only 14 articles and unequal to Japan.

In 1860, two years after the Treaty was signed, Naosuke Ii was assassinated near the present Imperial Palace on his way to the office. Assassins, a group of 18 rightist samurai, were mostly clansmen from the fief of Mito {me-toh} in Ibaraki Prefecture, one of the three powerful branch families of the Tokugawas. Four of the assassins were killed at the fighting, four killed themselves after they knew Ii was successfully assassinated, and seven were sentenced to death afterward. However, the remaining three just disappeared from the scene and were put on the wanted list. One of them was Matsunosuke Hiroki. Despite the authorities' massive search, he managed to escape the chase as he disguised himself as a temple priest and went underground travelling mainly the coast of the Japan Sea. Later in 1862, he secretly came to Kamakura to elude the pursuit and was employed by the Temple as a grave keeper. Within a year, however, he learnt that all the fellow assassins were either caught or killed themselves, and he was the only one alive. It was a sheer shame and against the code of samurai. He confessed to the chief priest of the Temple that he was among the assassins and asked the priest to help him commit seppuku. The priest accepted his request. Following a suicide-ritual, he disemboweled himself with a sword in front of the priest on March 3, 1863, the same day of the assassination three years earlier. He was 25 years old. Today, his tomb lies in the graveyard of the Temple at the left side-hand side of the main hall, but few visitors pay attention to it.

Main Hall

Since founding, the Temple have encountered a series of fires. The present hall was originally constructed in 1812 as the founding priest's hall of Myohoji, but brought here in 1886 after losing the former one by fire. It was roughly a quarter of a century after Hiroki committed suicide. Though the 5.4-meter-square hall is rather small and its appearance looks shabby, the ornament inside is valuable. The coffered ceiling is painted with birds and flowers, and in the transom are wood-cravings of twelve zodiac animals. The eaves are longer than the usual ones, which are never seen in Kamakura.

The main objects of worship are a set of statues, including that of Priest Nichiren, other Buddha statues, and the tablet inscribed with the holy statement Nam-myoho-ren-ghe'kyo as often seen at Nichiren Sect temples.


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