Main content starts here.


    Minobusan Kuonji is the main temple of the "Nichiren-shu" Buddhist religious sect. At a time when the Japanese people were struggling through plagues and natural disasters, Monk Nichiren created the Lotus Sutra and began his missionary activities. Unfortunately, Nichiren, having ideals that went against the interests of the Shogunate, was sentenced to exile three times and was left on an island abandoned to his own fate. However, after returning alive from his exile death sentence, Nichiren was invited by Nanbu Sanega, descendant of Kai Genji to be part of Minobusan Kuonji Temple. After the invitation, the monk remained for nine years in those mountains reciting the Lotus Sutra and dedicating to educate his disciples.
   Nichiren spent the last years of his life in Minobusan. However, because of medical treatment and a desire to visit his parents' tomb, the monk left Minobusan for Hitachi no Kuni (present-day Ibaraki Prefecture), but died at the age of 61 in Musashi (present-day Tokyo). In his will, he expressed the wish that his tomb should be built in Minobusan. Thus, Minobusan became Nichirenshu's home. More than 700 years have passed since Nichirens death, but the lessons of the monk are kept alive by his disciple’s generation after generation. 

 Minobusan Kuonji Temple attracts visitors from all over Japan, whether for its history or for its natural exuberance, such as its 400-year-old cherry tree that makes it a must-see destination for hanami lovers (the traditional Japanese custom of contemplating cherry trees while having a meal or chatting with friends).

Here we will share our one-night experience at the mystical Minobusan!

Minobu Kuonji


▲This is the main entrance, followed by a staircase that extends to the temple area.

  minobusan201907-03  minobusan201907-04

▲Crossing the main entrance is like being transported to another world. The following straight path leads to a large stone staircase.


▲Called “Bodaitei”, the stone staircase leading to the temple site is 287 steps and 104m long. The number of steps was chosen in reference to the main mantra of this stream of Buddhism (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō) which when written in Japanese is composed of 7 characters, and because it must be sung 41 times, it comes to a total of 287 characters. According to tradition, the ascent done while reciting the mantra symbolizes the passage through life's challenges.
▲We did it! We climbed the entire staircase! The air felt a little different up here. It is said that climbing these stairs carries about half of the importance of the entire pilgrimage!

minobusan201907-07  minobusan201907-08
▲Just after the staircase on the left side is the famous 5-story pagoda of Kuonji. Partially destroyed by a major fire in the Meiji era, the pavement was rebuilt and reopened in 2008 and it is now hailed as the 4th tallest pagoda in all of Japan.  

minobusan201907-09   minobusan201907-10

minobusan201907-11  minobusan201907-12

▲Photos taken in the second half of July at the end of the rainy season. The lotus flower, known as the symbol of Buddhism, was in full bloom.

minobusan201907-13  minobusan201907-14
▲We were led inside the main temple. Immediately after the main entrance, the image on the ceiling caught our attention: a 9m² dragon drawn in gold leaf. According to our guide, this 5-claw dragon represents the highest class of dragons. The image was designed in such a way that looking at the design from inside the temple, regardless of where you stand, gives the impression of being watched over by the dragon at all times. According to Buddhist tradition, the dragon named “Ryuju” is always protecting us.
* Photography or any other kind of registration is not allowed inside the temple. Only due to journalistic purpose, we were allowed to take these photographs.

minobusan201907-15   minobusan201907-16
▲During our stay we also learned about the hierarchy between the monks and its correlation with the places where each one sits during ceremonies. The highest seat in the picture on the left, for example, can only be occupied by the main monk, whose entrance is received with the beat of this large drum in the image on the right.

Minobu Kuonji's main temple was rebuilt 34 years ago at the cost of 600 million yen. Its interior has capacity to accommodate up to 2500 people during the ceremonies, which have been held every morning since its reopening.


▲「Kaisandou」。Temple built in honor of the feudal lord Nanbusanenaga, who was the one who invited Nichiren to be part of the Minobusan Kuonji.

▲Minobusan focuses strongly on self-discipline. At Kuonji, every day from 9 am to 3 pm, the sutra is sung by the younger monks in turns. At the time of our visit, the monk was playing the Mokugyo (a small fish-shaped percussive instrument made of wood, popularly used in Buddhist temples) at a fast pace. According to our guide the goal of reciting the sutra so quickly is to be able to repeat it several times in a short time.


▲「Goshin Kotsudou」
This is where the remains of Nichiren are stored. Considered the most reserved place in Kuonji, only monks can enter the place. Protecting the integrity of Nichiren Shounin's remains is one of the monk's highest duties. As the most important location inside the Kuonji complex, this temple was built in such a way that it was not visible from the outside. There is also a security system designed to protect the integrity of Nichiren's body remains, which activates and moves the urn to a protected underground compartment in case of earthquake or fire. The monk who guided us through Kuonji's premises also highlighted the fact that Nichiren's remains are in an incredible state of preservation despite the harsh lifestyle caused by restrictions on the body's needs during his period of exile.


▲This is an enlarged replica of a hand-drawn portrait of Nichiren Shonin. The oscillations that can be observed on the contour lines of the drawing have an explanation. According to our guide, the monk's sanctity was such that the artist was not to look him directly in the eyes, thus he had to use the reflection of Nichiren’s image in the water as a reference for drawing. For this reason, the work was named “Mizu kagami no miei” (reflection in the water mirror).

minobusan201907-21  minobusan201907-22
▲ In Kuonji, every day at 5am and 4:55 pm the big bell is rung. Its sound can be heard within a 1km radius.
Because of the bell's proportions, to move the log long enough to perform the task of ringing it, the young monk must use the weight of his entire body, as can be seen in the image above. 

Minobusan Kuonji

 Yamanshi-ken, Minamikomagun, Minobu cho, Minobu  Zipcode 409-2593
Phone: 0556-62-1011
URL: External link )

~Okuonin Shishinkaku~

minobusan201907-23  minobusan201907-24

minobusan201907-25 minobusan201907-26
▲At the back of the Kuonji temples is a cable car that gives access to the top of Mount Minobu via a 7-minute ride to the top. 

▲The top of Mount Minobu is famous for being an area thought to be overflowing with positive mystical energy. In addition, at late March ant late September you can see the sun rising  just above Mount Fuji, as if it were rising from the mountain which further influences that theory. The phenomenon became known as "Diamond Fuji".

Mount Minobu Cable Car

<Round-trip Tickets> 
Adult 1400¥  (one way 760¥)
Children 700¥(one way 400¥)

minobusan201907-28  minobusan201907-29
▲ At the top of Minobu Mountain lies the Okuno-in Shishinkaku Temple. Every day that Nichiren was living on Mt.Minobu, he would climb the mountain high and visit this temple to pay respects to his deceased parents and former Buddhist master who were buried far off in his home of Minamibousou (modern day Chiba). As Nichiren was fiercely chased off by the Bakufu government, and had sook asylum at Minobu he was unable to be by his parents and masters side and it was said that because of this he had never gotten to say his last goodbyes. Because of this he had felt sincerely that he had failed at his filial piety duties.
Inspired by the deep feelings he held towards his parents and his master who was like a spiritual father to him, this area where he went to pay his respects was nicknamed the summit of Familiar love. And the temple where he often visited became Shishinkaku Temple(思親閣), which can roughly be translated to “The temple of Parental Remembrance”.

minobusan201907-30 minobusan201907-31 minobusan201907-32

▲On the grounds of the “Shishinkaku” temple there are 4 cedar trees whose seeds were planted by Nichiren himself. According to records, the monk did so in honour of his father, his mother, the doctor who accompanied him during his life on the hill and his nation, Japan.

▲Inside the Shishinkaku temple, there is a sign saying "Chionhouon". The phrase can be translated as "To know the good and to transmit the good." According to this philosophy it is important to return the favours we received.

minobusan201907-34  minobusan201907-35

▲On the mountain the weather changes very quickly. When we visited Okuonin a sudden haze washed over the scenery. As we walked along Hinoji no Mori mountain, a mysterious Princess Mononoke-style atmosphere (famous animation from Ghibli Studios) hung in the air.

minobusan201907-36  minobusan201907-37

▲  Soon after the cable car arrives at the top of the souvenir shop entrance, you can smell the delicious freshly prepared dango.

~Stay in a “Shukubou” (accommodation of the monks)

minobusan201907-38 minobusan201907-39

▲At Mount Minobu, you can also experience a monk-style stay. The Ryokan (traditional Japanese-style hotel) is located in the vicinity of Nichiren's house, near his grave.

minobusan201907-40 minobusan201907-41

▲ The rooms are very spacious, with large windows giving a view of the surrounding lush nature.
By opening the window, you can enjoy the sound of the surrounding lakes and waterfalls.

minobusan201907-42  minobusan201907-43

▲ Dinner time: Vegetables straight from local farms, as well as the famous side dishes that fit perfectly with traditional Japanese meal, such as “Yuba”, a tofu-based dish, a tradition in the Minobu region. The monks' meal does not contain meat, but the hotel includes to please the tourists.

~Early Morning Services~

minobusan201907-44 minobusan201907-45

minobusan201907-46 minobusan201907-47

▲ The next morning, we woke up at 5am and attended the morning prayer in the temple. The ceremony is held every morning, 365 days a year. Mount Minobu is known as a holy place of prayer. During our visit to the mountain we were able to observe the devotion and respect for the Buddhist traditions of all those involved with the temple.

minobusan201907-48 minobusan201907-49

~Oyama de YOGA~(Yoga in the Mountain)

minobusan201907-50   minobusan201907-51
▲We participate in yoga practice from 7:30 am in the main temple lobby.

Oyama de YOGA times:

- Honkan (Main Temple): Wednesdays at 7:30am (2 sessions per month)
- Sanmon Roujou: Saturdays at10:00(2 sessions per month)
* To participate you must register in advance.

Contact: 0556-62-1011 (Minobusan Kuonji Missionaries Department)

minobusan201907-52 minobusan201907-53
▲The traditional Japanese breakfast is served at 9am after the morning prayer and yoga routine.


Yamanshi-ken, Minamikomagun, Minobu-cho  Nishitani Minobu  3591
Price per night with 2 Meals 8500 ¥ (+ taxes) per person
 * Rates subject to adjustment in high season.

~Gobyosho e Gosoan-ato~

minobusan201907-54  minobusan201907-55

minobusan201907-56 minobusan201907-57
Here is the tomb of Nichiren, who expressed in his will the desire to be buried in Minobu.

minobusan201907-58 minobusan201907-59

On the right side of Nichiren's tomb is a preserved area which was the actual location of the house where the monk lived his 9 years on the mountain

~The Museum and the Sutras~

In the basement of the main temple of Kuonji there is a museum that houses more than 700 years of history through statues, manuscripts and other objects considered part of the national heritage.

* Photograph in exhibition hall is prohibited. To check the exhibit, you must attend in person)

minobusan201907-60 minobusan201907-61

minobusan201907-62 minobusan201907-63
▲Included in the price of each museum ticket is the sutra copying experience. Using traditional Japanese ink and brush each visitor is allowed to copy the sutra of their choice and each sutra displayed contains a small pamphlet with explanations (in Japanese) about the meaning of its verses.


◇ Closed on Thursdays (In case of holidays on Thursday, recess is the following day)
◇ Visiting hours: 9am to 4pm (Check in until 3:30 pm)
◇ Admission fee:
General public: 300 ¥
College and High school student: 200 ¥
Elementary School 1 and 2: 100 ¥


<By public transportation>
Shunjuku(JR 1:40hr via Tokyu Azusa → Kofu)
Kofu(JR 1hr via Minobu Tokyu Line)→ Minobu Station

・Tokyu(JR Tokaido Shinkansen/ 1:15hr)→ Shin Fuji
Shin Fuji(10mins by bus or taxi)→ Fuji(JR Minobu Line)
Fuji(JR 1hr via Minobu Tokyu Line)→ Minobu Station
*From Shin Fuji to Fuji, please take a taxi or a bus.

minobusan201907-64 minobusan201907-65

minobusan201907-66 minobusan201907-67

▲Between Minobu Station and Mount Minobu using the city bus is a good option.
The bus stop is in front of the station and runs approx. every 40 minutes.

Prices for one-way tickets are ¥290/Adult (¥150/child)
※ For detailed timetable, see the link below: External link )

minobusan201907-68 minobusan201907-69
▲ There are also taxi services available near the station.

▲ Trip value to Minobu Temple: Departing from Minobu Station, one way ¥2080.

< Road Bus >
From Shinjuku Station via Minami Alps to Minobusan: 3:30hrs.
6 round-trips per day
Price: one-way ¥3200

For more details, see the link below: External link )

Published on

  • September 10, 2019


Home > Staff Journal > Mt. Minobu Kuonji Temple The abode of the good energies