street leads to the temple starts at Sobu-sen Shimousa Nakayama-station
and had created a town alongside over the years. The compound is
consist of many buildings such as Daido (Great Hall), Shodo, Shoto,
and it is always filled with the followers paying their respect.
In other words, this is the temple well-supported by both priests
Nichiren Shonin avoided the Matsubagayatsu Persecution by running
away to Shimousa and he relied upon Jonin Toki, the head of Gozoku
(prominent family) in Wakamiya as well as a devoted follower. In
August of 1260, the Hokke-do (later it became Hokke-ji) was built
within Toki's residence. Nichiren Shonin had offered his 100-day
sit-in lecture there between the end of the year and spring. Accordingly
this temple is regarded as the sacred site of Honge Shoten Borin
(Nichiren Shonin's first preaching the Dharma). Soon another Gozoku
in near by area of Nakayama, Jomyo Ohta built Jibutsu-do (later
became Honmyo-ji) on his property. Jibutsu-do was blessed by Nichiren
Shonin when its construction was completed.
The beginning (Engi):
Hokekyou-ji was founded in August of 1260. Jonin Toki became a priest
after Nichiren Shonin passed away in 1282 and changed his name to
Nichijo. The following year he entered Honmyo-ji when Jomyo deceased.
In 1297, Nichijo made a rule to keep all documents left by Nichiren
Shonin at the temple in order to protect them from getting lost.
All the documents have been kept safely at Shogyo-den until this
day. When Nichijo passed away, the son of Jomyo, Nichiko became
the second priest of Hokke-ji and established Honmyo-ji as well.
Thus from this point on, the main priest oversee both temples together.
This system is called, Ryozan Isshusei (one head priest for the
two temples). After Nichiko passed away, Nichiyu became the third
priest of Hokke-ji and Honmyo-ji and he invited another Gozoku,
Tanesada Chiba to head the congregation. Tanesada generously contributed
a large land to the temple to secure the temple's financial situation.
Nichiyu vigorously spread the mission, chanting of the Lotus Sutra,
copying the Sutra as well as built a Shoja (a dwelling place for
diligent practitioners.) He also made many pilgrimages to Mt. Minobu.
These visits resulted that his disciple, Nikka (originally from
Gozoku family in Musashinokuni Mutsuura) to make finanical contributions
to Mt. Minobu. He also gathered the documents written by Nichiren
Shonin and created the index of them. He established some systems
within the organization such as Shiinkasei and Doshishokusei.
This line of Nakayama-monryu (the linage of
Nakayama) has contributed to the Nichiren-shu from Nanboku-cho era
to Muromachi-era by sending extraordinary priests: Haniya Myosen
Nichiei, Kenpon Hokke-shu Nichiju, Honpo-ji Nabekamuri Nisshin,
Chomyo-ji Nisshuku. Hokke-ji and Honmyo-ji were united during Sengoku-era
and formed Hokekyo-ji. The eleventh priest of Nichiden was exiled
to Hagi (current Yamaguchi) by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and this caused
to form Sanzan Rinban Sei (the system to take turn of taking care
by the three temples) among Kyoto Komyo-ji, Honpo-ji, and Sakai
Myokoku-ji. During early Meiji-era in 19th centuary, the Buddhism
in Japan was prosecuted as a result of Haibutsu Kishaku (the anti-Buddhist
movement that led to the destruction of Buddhist temples and images).
After the World War II Hokekyo-ji establised Nakayama Myoshu and
rejoined Nichiren-shu in 1973.
The temple is also well-known all over Japan
as Kito Reijo (a sacred site of Kito blessing) for three Hiho (esoteric
methods of practice.) First people visit here to pray at Kishimo-jin
(the Buddhist goddess, who is beautiful and blessed with many children,
to help people with childbirths and child care.) It is said that
Nichiren Shonin came over this place to avoid Komatsubara Persecution;
carved the statue of Kishimo-jin, and taught Toki Jonin about hidden
teaching of this goddess. In Edo era, this statue was called Nakayama
Kishimo-jin and worshiped by many people who wished to have Genze
Riyaku (benefits in this life such as good health, child rearing
and so on.)
Second this temple is the place for Aragyo (
100days ascetic practice.) In order to become a Shuhosshi (certified
priest to perform Kito blessing) of Nichiren-shu, one must complete
one-hundred-day training starting on November 1 at Nichiren-shu
Kegyosho to receive hidden teaching. This training includes a famously
difficult session called Kanchu Suigyo, practice of cold water purification
Finally there is a hidden teaching of Bokken
Kaji (Kito blessing with wooden sward). This method of Kito blessing
is allowed to be practiced by only Shuhosshi completed the Aragyo
training. The prayer summons up the Kishimo-jin; apply the juzu
to a bokken (wooden sword); chant the prayer; pray to rid of all
evil. Consequently this prayer brings people to rest their minds
and pray for the Rissho Ankoku, establishing peaceful country with
The current condition:
The temple holds various historically significant structures. Soshi-do
(founder's hall), designated as Juyo Bunka-zai (a national cultural
treasure) was rebuilt in Enpo-era (1673-81). Other national cultural
treasures are Hokke-do, built in Muromachi-era and Shisoku-mon.
Hokke-do is the oldest structure and believed to be the main structure
of Honmyo-ji. Goju-no-to(the five story pagota,) built in 1622,
is also the national treasure. There is a substantial addition,
Shogyo-den built in 1931. Others worth being mentioned are: Kishimojin-do,
Aragyo-do, and Joshuden (the guest house.)
The temple maintains numerous sacred treasures
as well: Kokuho(national treasure) "Rissho Ankoku Ron,"
Kokuho "Kanjin Honzon-sho," and national cultural treasure,
Nichiren Shonin's document in 56 volumes and others. These are shown
to public only once a year on November 3. Countless numbers of historical
documents, the statue of Nichiren Shonin, all other priests' statues,
statues of the Buddha, pictures all date back to the Middle Ages.
The temple holds many annual events: Senbu-e
(April 15-20,) opening of Shogyo-den (November 3,) Oeshiki (November
15-18,) Nyugyo-e (the beginning of the Aragyo training. November
1,) and Shutugyo-e (the end of Aragyo. February 10.) The eighth
day of every month is the Kishimo-jin day (especially the special
prayer is held on the eighth of January, May and September) and
many people gather at the temple.