Nishi Magome

Nishi Magome Station lies on the Toei Asakusa subway line in the Ikegami district of Ota Ward of Tokyo. Nishi Magome is the station where Asakusa Line starts (A-1) ending at Oshiage Station (A-20) in Sumida Ward.

Ikegami was once a small farming town on the edge of Tokyo, but it soon grew into a thriving place due to its many temples which attract pilgrims from all over the country. Most of these temples are on a hill, the main one rising from the top of the hill and the other smaller ones all around its base. This huge temple on the top of the hill is the Ikegami Honmonji Temple, located just 8 minutes walk from Nishi Magome Station.

Ikegami Honmonji Temple

Ikegami Honmonji is a very important temple for the devotees of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism as it honors Nichiren, a distinguished saint in Buddhist history. Nichiren died here in 1282 and had founded the temple himself just before his death. The temple is also famed for the many well-known figures of Japanese history who are entombed here.

The way up to the temple is through a steep staircase that starts at the base of the hill. Besides the many pilgrims going up and down, the staircase is also crowded with clusters of street merchants selling religious charms, snacks and other goods. Once at top, the entrance to the temple is through an enormous wooden gate that also serves as a watch-tower. As one enters, there are two large statues of the ‘Gods of Thunder’ on either side of the gate and a large plaza in the center. On the opposite side of the plaza is the main large hall where the statue of Nichiren is enshrined. This hall is where monks meet and pilgrims make their offerings. It has been designated an important cultural property by the Japanese Government. Behind the hall is a mausoleum where the ashes of Nichiren are enshrined. This mausoleum, which is built entirely of Japanese cypress, was constructed on the 700th anniversary of the saint’s death. Also on the temple complex are smaller shrines dedicated to various saints, and a five-storied pagoda. This pagoda, which is one of the most magnificent pagodas of Tokyo, was built in 1608. It is constructed in the Momoyama style of architecture and features the glorious artistic style of the mid-16th century.

Ikegami Honmonji Temple is also famous for its annual Oeshiki Festival.


Oeshiki is a Buddhist festival celebrated from the 11th to the 13th of October each year on the death anniversary of Nichiren, the Buddhist saint. The festival, which has a long history of 720 years, is one of the most important events for Buddhist believers. During the festival days thousands of people come to the temple and the praying continues till well after midnight. The street from the temple to Ikegami Station is decorated with lanterns, and stalls selling traditional wares and foods are set up. The highlight of the festival is the parade of “mando” which takes place in the night of October 12. Mando, which literally means “10,000 lanterns”, is 5 meters high and is shaped like an umbrella. Rows of artificial cherry blossoms are hung from the top, and the pole is lighted from the inside. Over 3,000 devotees carry a hundred of these mando lanterns among huge crowds on the lighted street to the accompaniment of flutes and drums. This hugely impressive parade is extremely popular among not only the devotees but also the rest of Tokyo residents. On the 13th of October, which is the actual day of the death of Nichiren, the main Oeshiki Ceremony is held. The head priest of the temple gives the Rinmetsudoji Hoyo (Buddhist sermon), and sounds the gong softly and solemnly, just as the gongs had rung at the moment of Nichiren’s death, or his achieving the nirvana.

Senbu Plant Fair

The Senbu Plant Festival is held at Ikegami Honmonji Temple annually between April 25 and May 5. During this time a plant fair is held at the same time as “Senbu-kai”, a religious event of Nichiren sect with a Buddhist procession of children. Many gardeners and plant dealers come from nearby prefectures to join this large-scale annual event and open their shops in the temple precincts and along the way from Niomon gate to the five-story pagoda. Potted flowers, garden trees, bonsai, wild flowers, and every other kind of plant can be found at this busy fair.


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