Honmonji is located in Ikegami and it is set high on a hill so that it seems that it will be a daunting task to reach the top because when you approach it you are confronted by some 350 plus steps that must be negotiated, but don’t let that turn you away because if you go to your right there is an elevator that you can utilise instead of exercising your legs and lungs on the steep climb up. I elected to use the stairs as part of my exercise regime.
Honmonji dates back to 1274 and was established by Nichiren, the founder of Nichiren Buddhism, it is also where he was enshrined when he died in 1282 and you can visit his mausoleum as well as the home in which he resided which has been kept in excellent condition..Another historical spot of interest is the five storied pagoda which is reportedly the oldest such structure in the Kanto region.
The thing that struct me the most about Honmonji was its feeling of remoteness and its expansive peaceful grounds. I was also amazed at the beauty of the interior of the main temple hall, which although photographs are not allowed, I was given permission to take just one shot which I think does not do it justice as it understates its magnificence, in particular as the ceiling of the temple directly above you as you enter has a most beautiful mural.
If you like crowds then you should visit Honmonji in October for the Oeshiki lantern festival which is held each year, from the 11th to 13th, to celebrate the death of Nichiren.
Smith’s School of English Koenji