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Myoryuji

Official Name Eishozan Myoryuji {Pronounced a-show-zan myo-lieu-gee}
Religious sect Nichiren sect
Founded in 1385
by Tanesada Chiba {tah-neh-sah-dah chee-bah}
Founding priest Nichiei {nich-a} (1344-1420)
Main object of worship Statue of Nichiren and Odaimoku Tablet
Address 17-20, Komachi 2-chome, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0006
Area size Approximately 2,500 square meters
Location 500 meters northeast of Kamakura Station
Time needed to get there 10 minutes
Admission Free (open yard)
Open 10:00 - 18:00
Phone number 0467-23-3195
Restrooms Not available

Historical Overview



The Temple sits on the place where Tanesada Chiba (1288-1336), a famous lord of manor in Chiba Prefecture, used to live and served the Kamakura Shogunate. Chiba Prefecture originates in his surname. His ancestors fought for Yoritomo Minamoto {yo-re-toh-moh me-nah-moh-toh} (1147-1199), the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate, against the Taira Clan and greatly helped Yoritomo triumph.

More famous than the founding priest or the founder of the Temple is the second chief priest Nisshin {nis'sin} (1407-1488) and his ever-ascetic, harsh disciplines. At the age of 19, he underwent a hundred-day self-discipline. Everyday he peeled off one of his finger nails. Pricking a needle onto it, he rinsed the finger in a pond and drew a mandala with blood-smeared water of the pond. He continued this excruciating training for a hundred days in midwinter. The legendary pond still exists near the main hall.

In 1427, he wrote a treatise similar to, but a new version of Priest Nichiren's "Pacifying the State by Establishing Orthodoxy" and attacked the Muromachi Shogunate then under the rule of Sixth Shogun Yoshinori Ashikaga {yo-she-no-re ah-she-kah-gah} (1394-1441). Nisshin's harsh criticism against the Ashikaga regime enraged Yoshinori and he was thrown into jail.

Though he was tortured with various cruel methods, neither did he give in nor change his views. One of the tortures he was subjected to was putting a scalding saucepan on his head and yet he held to his assertion. Thus he was called "Nisshin with a saucepan on his head". One day during the torture, he predicted that misfortune would fall on Yoshinori within 100 days.

As predicted, Yoshinori was assassinated by a fellow samurai Mitsusuke Akamatsu {me-tsu-soo-keh ah-kah-mah-tsu} (1381-1441) shortly afterward. The new Shogun Yoshikatsu {yo-she-kah-tsu} Ashikaga (1434-1443) ordered to release Priest Nisshin immediately in awe of his power of prediction.

Many of the Priest Nichiren's followers experienced similar persecutions, but Priest Nisshin was strong enough to put up with them by virtue of his austere disciplines. In fact, he lived to be 82 years old.

Main Hall

The old building was destroyed by the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, but rebuilt the next year. The roof was renewed with copper in 1983. The main object of worship is a wooden statue of Priest Nichiren (1222-1282), the founder of Nichiren Sect Buddhism, carved during the Edo Period (1603-1868) and enshrined in the center of the hall.

The following statues are also installed in the main hall:

Shaka Nyorai {shah-kah nyo-rye} or Sakyamuni in Sanskrit, fashioned during the Muromachi Period (1333-1573).
Priest Nichiei, 67.7 centimeters tall, made in 1634
Priest Nisshin, 23 centimeters tall, made in 1634
Tanesada Chiba, 98.5 centimeters tall, carved circa 1630


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